A Periodic Federal Science Update

National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML) Submits Comments on Draft Interagency Ocean Science and Technology Priorities Report – This week NAML submitted its comments on the draft report issued by an interagency committee outlining federal ocean science and technology priorities for the next decade.  In late June the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Environment, Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST) issued Science and Technology for America’s Oceans: A Decadal Vision.  This report is a follow on to the last decadal priorities report, Charting the Course. NAML’s comments focused on the importance of extramural support for ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes research and education; support for the science priorities expressed in the National Academies’ report Sea Change as well as other important topics including aquaculture, oceanographic and geochemical exploration, data collection and observations, understanding ecosystems; and education and training.  NAML’s statement also called for a balanced presentation of the ocean science and technology interests of all the agencies involved in this priorities’ development exercise.  A copy of the NAML statement can be downloaded here.  Information on submitting comments can be found here.  The deadline for submitting comments is August 27, 2018.

ARPA-E Announces Funding Opportunity to Develop Novel Heat Exchanger Technologies -- ARPA-E has issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) of up to $35 million for the High Intensity Thermal Exchange through Materials and Manufacturing Processes (HITEMMP) program, to develop new approaches and technologies for the design and manufacture of high temperature, high pressure, and highly compact heat exchangers.  Heat exchangers are critical to efficient thermal energy use in numerous industrial and everyday applications, including electricity generation, nuclear reactors, transportation, petrochemical plants, waste heat recovery, and much more. HITEMMP project teams must develop new exchanger topologies, or physical designs, that optimize device structure with suitable advanced materials and the fluids flowing through them for the desired range of operating conditions. Equally important is to develop new, or refine existing, manufacturing technologies that enable attractive performance at an acceptable cost. The deadline to submit a concept paper for HITEMMP is 9:30 a.m. ET on September 12, 2018. Additional information, including the full FOA and how to find project teaming partners, is available on ARPA-E’s online application portalARPA-E eXCHANGE

DARPA Young Faculty Award Opportunity Announced -- The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award (YFA) program seeks to identify and engage rising stars in junior faculty positions in academia and equivalent positions at non-profit research institutions and expose them to Department of Defense (DoD) and National Security challenges and needs. In particular, this YFA will provide high-impact funding to elite researchers early in their careers to develop innovative new research directions in the context of enabling transformative DoD capabilities. The long-term goal of the program is to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers in the research community who will focus a significant portion of their future careers on DoD and National Security issues. DARPA is particularly interested in identifying outstanding researchers who have previously not been performers on DARPA programs, but the program is open to all qualified applicants with innovative research ideas.  Additional information on this program as well as other DARPA funding opportunities can be found here.

NOAA Announces Climate Research Funding Opportunity – NOAA’s Climate Program Office (CPO) supports competitive research through three major program areas: Earth System Science and Modeling (ESSM); Climate and Societal Interactions (CSI); and Communication, Education and Engagement (CEE). Through this funding announcement, CPO is seeking applications for 10 individual competitions in FY 2019. Prior to submitting applications, investigators are highly encouraged to learn more about CPO and its programs, as well as specific program priorities for FY 2019. In addition, interactions, partnerships, or collaborations with NOAA Laboratories and Cooperative Institutes are encouraged. This information, along with the names and contact information for each Competition Manager, is provided in information sheets that can be found here.

Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Approves Waterfront Community Revitalization Act – On August 1, the Senate Commerce Committee approved legislation sponsored by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) aimed at boosting efforts to revitalize waterfront communities, including Wisconsin towns and cities along the Great Lakes, rivers and inland lakes.  The Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act (S. 3265) will support local efforts to take advantage of water resources by attracting water-dependent industries and investments that leverage water sustainability, revitalizing neighborhoods and enhancing recreation and tourism.  The Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act aims to solve these problems by: creating a voluntary resilient waterfront community designation within the Department of Commerce. The designation recognizes communities that adopt a waterfront revitalization and resiliency plan integrating economic, ecosystem, and infrastructure challenges and opportunities; and establishing a resilient waterfront communities network to support sharing of best practices, highlight resilient waterfront communities, and help attract new investment.  More information on this bill can be found here.

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Update on FY 2019 Appropriations Process – The Senate continues to debate and pass appropriations measures for FY 2019.  By the end of this week, it is expected that the Senate will have passed 7 of the 12 appropriations bills – including Military Construction-VA; Energy and Water; Legislative Branch (in one minibus); and Interior and EPA; Financial Services; Agriculture; and Transportation-Housing (in a second minibus).  The Labor-HHS-Ed bill and Defense Appropriations bills are expected to be packaged into a third minibus and brought up for debate during the week of August 13.  That would leave three bills – Homeland Security; Commerce-Justice-Science; and State/Foreign Operations – to be packaged into a third minibus or be rolled into a continuing resolution.  The Homeland Security bill and CJS bill are both controversial since they deal with border security funding and immigration matters.

White House to Nominate Kelvin Droegemeier as Presidential Science Advisor – On July 31 the White House announced the President’s intent to nominate Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier as the next White House Science Advisor.  Dr. Droegemeier currently serves as Vice President for Research and Regents’ Professor of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma and as Oklahoma Cabinet Secretary of Science and Technology. He co-founded and directed the National Science Foundation’s Science and Technology Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms and the NSF Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere.  Dr. Droegemeier served two six-year terms (four years as Vice Chairman) on the National Science Board, under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He earned his B.S. in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma and M.S. and Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Droegemeier is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and American Association for the Advancement of Science.  His selection drew early praise from the scientific community. “I think he’s a very solid choice,” said John Holdren, the former director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Obama. “He’s been a serious climate scientist, and he’s been a serious science adviser to people in positions of influence.”  Dr. Droegemeier’s nomination will be considered by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee before the full Senate can vote on his confirmation.

Administration Issues FY2020 R&D Priorities Memorandum – On July 31, the annual joint OMB-OSTP R&D priorities memorandum for FY 2020 was released by the Administration.  This document provides relevant Federal agencies with guidance for the preparation of their FY 2020 budget plans.  The joint memo says, “Building on a foundation of Federal research and development (R&D) investments, America will also be the nation that leads in today's emerging technologies, from artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing, to biotechnology, advanced wireless communications, and space commercialization. Federal R&D dollars focused primarily on basic and early-stage applied research, paired with targeted deregulation, and investment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce development, will strengthen the Nation's innovation base and position the United States for unparalleled job growth, continued prosperity, and national security.”

Priority areas highlighted in the guidance include:  security for the American people; leadership in artificial intelligence, quantum information sciences, and strategic computing; advanced communication networks; manufacturing; space exploration and commercialization; energy dominance; medical innovation; and agriculture.  Underpinning these areas is an emphasis on educating and training a workforce for the 21st century; managing and modernizing infrastructure for research and development; interagency cooperation; technology transfer; and increased partnerships with industry and academia.

NOAA Announces a Series of Nationwide Listening Sessions – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that its senior leadership will embark on a series of public conferences held across the nation from August through November 2018.  These meetings will provide information about the implementation of the Department of Commerce’s 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, and also offer citizens the opportunity to provide input.  Topics will include the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017, reducing the seafood trade deficit, and supporting maritime commerce, fisheries, recreation, and tourism. More information on these listening sessions is available here

NIH Announces Intent to Publish Research Opportunity for End-of-Life and Palliative Care – NIH expects to issue a funding opportunity announcement in the fall of 2018 which will provide research support to examine the multi-dimensional foundations, expressions and management of advanced signs and symptoms specific to individuals with advanced serious illness with the period of end of life including:  pain, fatigue, neurological and behavioral signs and symptoms including agitation, confusion, delirium, hallucination, etc.  NIH encourages investigators and multidisciplinary teams with expertise and insight into end-of-life and palliative approaches to advanced signs and symptoms to begin to consider applying for this funding opportunity. Because of the complex, multi-factorial nature of this issue, multi-disciplinary teams are highly encouraged. Investigators are encouraged to consider using existing palliative care research networks, such as the Palliative Care Research Cooperative Group, to carry out small, multi-site trials when appropriate. Inclusion of patient- and family-representatives in the design of the study and in the development of interventions is strongly recommended. Inclusion of under-studied populations including NIH-designated health disparity, socioeconomically disadvantaged, rural and/or remote, and sexual and gender minority populations with advanced, serious illness at the end of life is encouraged. To fully explore the patient- and family-centered experience of advanced signs and symptoms, a wide variety of research methodologies may be appropriate including qualitative, mixed methods, quasi-experimental, laboratory, pragmatic techniques and innovative methods.  More information on this forthcoming opportunity can be found here.

NIH Seeking Input and Feedback on BRAIN Initiative through Request for Information (RFI) – NIH is soliciting input on how best to accomplish the ambitious vision for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative® set forth in BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision. NIH is soliciting input from all interested stakeholders, including members of the scientific community, trainees, academic institutions, the private sector, health professionals, professional societies, advocacy groups, and patient communities, as well as other interested members of the public. The BRAIN Initiative aims to develop new tools and technologies to understand and manipulate networks of cells in the brain. BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision serves as the strategic plan for the BRAIN Initiative at NIH and outlines an overarching vision, seven high level scientific priorities, and many specific goals. Designed to be achieved over at least a decade, the first five years of BRAIN 2025 emphasizes development of tools and technology, and the next five years shifts emphasis to using these tools to make fundamental discoveries about how brain circuits work and what goes wrong in disease.

The BRAIN Initiative is approaching the midpoint. At this time, NIH is seeking feedback on the BRAIN Initiative's progress and on opportunities moving forward given the current state of the science. NIH has established a new BRAIN Initiative Advisory Committee of the NIH Director (ACD) Working Group that will provide scientific guidance to the ACD on how best to continue to accelerate the ambitious vision for the BRAIN Initiative.  The ACD-WG will use the responses to this RFI, along with information gathered through a series of public workshops, to help inform their discussions of the BRAIN Initiative's progress and potential updates to the plan moving forward.  More information on this RFI can be found here

DARPA Holding Three Day Anniversary Symposium in September 2018 -- D60 is a three-day Symposium hosted by DARPA in honor of its 60th Anniversary. The Symposium will highlight DARPA’s approach to creating breakthrough technologies and capabilities from the Agency’s past, present, and future. DARPA’s mission requires a constant stream of novel ideas and contributions from innovators looking beyond what is possible now. D60 will provide attendees the opportunity to engage with up-and-coming innovators, along with scientists and technologists, as they continue to provide these contributions. Through this conference, DARPA aims to inspire attendees to explore future technologies, their potential application to tomorrow’s technical and societal challenges, and the dilemmas those applications may engender. D60 participants will have the opportunity to be a part of the new relationships, partnerships, and communities of interest that this event aims to foster, and advance dialogue on the pursuit of science in the national interest.  D60 will feature six Plenary Sessions focused on topics of broad import and interest as well as 30 themed Breakout Sessions that will enable participants to dive more deeply into particular topics of interest. An Exhibit Hall will feature displays from each of DARPA’s six technical offices, detailing a selection of programs that reflect the breadth of DARPA’s research portfolio as well as the range of its performer base. More information on this upcoming conference can be found here.

Department of Education Announces Support for Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) -- The GAANN Program provides grants to academic departments and programs of institutions of higher education (IHEs) to support graduate fellowships for students with excellent academic records who demonstrate financial need and plan to pursue the highest degree available in their course of study at the institution.  Four broad areas have identified as national needs:  computer and information science; professional engineers to support the rebuilding of the Nation’s infrastructure; civic literacy; and workforce development via professional science master’s degrees.  More information on the GAANN funding opportunity can be found here.

National Wind Technology Center Facility and Infrastructure Investments – The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) is poised to provide the integration, data collection, and test support services for a much broader and longer-term vision wherein renewables are a principal electricity provider for the nation. As a result, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is issuing a Request for Information (RFI) to gain input from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders regarding infrastructure or equipment investments that would enable expanded energy R&D opportunities at the NWTC. EERE’s vision is to enable the transition of the facility from a predominantly wind focus to a broader mix of energy research and development, including energy storage and grid integration. EERE’s Technology Offices are requesting public input on specific facility and infrastructure investments which would enable new research and development of value to industry. R&D technology areas of interest include: fuel cells and hydrogen, advanced manufacturing, solar, grid integration and storage, marine hydrokinetic, hydropower, and geothermal technologies.

The NSF 2026 Idea Machine -- The NSF 2026 Idea Machine is a competition to help set the U.S. agenda for fundamental research in science and engineering. Participants can earn prizes and receive public recognition by suggesting the pressing research questions that need to be answered in the coming decade, the next set of “Big Ideas” for future investment by the National Science Foundation (NSF). It's an opportunity for researchers, the public and other interested stakeholders to contribute to NSF's mission to support basic research and enable new discoveries that drive the U.S. economy, enhance national security and advance knowledge to sustain the country's global leadership in science and engineering.  More information will be available in late August here.

Federal R&D Obligations Increase 3% in FY 2017 – According to a report released by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on July 30, 2018 Federal obligations for research and development increased to an estimated $118.3 billion in FY 2017, up 2.8% from $115.0 billion in FY 2016. Obligations for R&D plant increased by 23.6% to $3.0 billion during the same period. Total obligation funding for research declined by 0.3% to $66.5 billion in FY 2017. Basic research remained stable at $32.3 billion in FY 2017, while obligations for applied research declined by 0.8% to $34.2 billion. Obligations for experimental development increased by 7.2% to $51.8 billion in FY 2017.  In FY 2017, obligations for research accounted for 56.2% of all federal R&D obligations. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) accounted for the largest share of federal research obligations (48.4%) with $32.2 billion in FY 2017. The Department of Energy (DOE) accounted for 14.9% ($9.9 billion) of total FY 2017 federal research obligations, followed by the Department of Defense (DOD) with 11.3% ($7.5 billion), NSF with 8.5% ($5.7 billion), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with 6.0% ($4.0 billion), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) with 3.4% ($2.3 billion). Agency shares of total research obligations in FY 2016 were similar to those in FY 2017.  More information on this new report is available here.

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Northeastern Association of Marine and Great Lakes Laboratories (NEAMGLL) to Meet – On July 24 and 25 NEAMGLL will meet at the Bowdoin College’s Schiller Coastal Studies Center in Harpswell, Maine.  The agenda for this summer meeting includes:  updates from each of the lab directors present, tours of the facilities at the Schiller Coastal Studies Center, a public policy update, a session on lab-based environmental networks with a number of speakers including Jen Seavey from the Northeastern Coastal Stations Alliance and Curtis Bohlen of the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership.  There will also be an optional site visit to the University of Marine’s Darling Marine Center located on the Darmiscotta River.

New Aquaculture Legislation Introduced by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) -- Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., has recently introduced the “Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act.” The legislation, S. 3138, would streamline the permitting process for aquaculture farms in federal waters, and fund research and development to advance the aquaculture industry. The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla.  Aquaculture refers to the farming of fish and plants in water for food. Over 90 percent of the seafood in the United States is imported, 50 percent of which is derived from aquaculture. The AQUAA Act would establish an Office of Marine Aquaculture within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which would be charged with coordinating the federal permitting process. Additionally, a permit would be established through NOAA that would give an individual the security of tenure necessary to secure financing for an aquaculture operation. The legislation attempts to maintain environmental standards and fund research and extension services to support the growth of aquaculture in the United States.

NIH to Request Proposals for New Pain Center Grant -- The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) intends to publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to solicit applications for a Clinical Coordinating Center (CCC) for a new Clinical Trials Network on Pain Research (CTNPR).  The CTNPR is part of the NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-Term (HEAL) Initiative. The network will be charged with testing novel, non-addictive treatments for patients suffering from acute or chronic pain conditions. The CTNPR will harness multidisciplinary expertise in pain science and clinical research to collaboratively design and conduct Phase 2 multicenter clinical trials testing novel pain treatments. It will also perform validation studies of biomarkers with promise to inform target engagement or proof of principle in Phase 2 clinical trials.  The CTNPR will be composed of one CCC, one Data Coordinating Center (DCC), and approximately 10 clinical centers (Hubs).  The Hubs will be Centers of Excellence with physicians with pain expertise from neurology, anesthesiology, rheumatology, physical medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, orthopedics, gastroenterology, and other subspecialties providing care to patients with pain.  Each Hub is envisioned as a regional medical center that will enroll patients along with its network of 2-10 satellite sites (Spokes).  The CCC and the leaders of the Clinical sites will play a critical role designing clinical trial protocols to be conducted in the CTNPR.   The FOA is expected to be published in July 2018 with an expected application due date in September 2018. This FOA will utilize the U24 activity code. Details of the planned FOA are available here.

House Passes Reauthorization of Magnuson-Stevens Act -- On July 11, The House approved legislation to overhaul the nation's major fishing law, passing the update largely along party.  H.R. 200, the "Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act," passed the House on a 222-193 vote. The bill aims to overhaul how the federal government manages the nation’s fisheries. The measure would make significant changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, a 1976 law that’s been credited with boosting fish stocks through restrictions on overfishing, among other successes. H.R. 200 would give more authority to local fishery councils to set fishing standards such as limits and seasons. It would allow for longer timelines for species recovery, or no timelines at all in some circumstances, and let fishery councils use alternative standards for measuring the health of a fishery. The legislation is supported by recreational fishing groups and opposed by conservationists and major commercial fishing organizations who argue that it would threaten sustainable fishing practices that have helped revitalize many important species.

W. Russell Callender Named Director of Washington Sea Grant -- Dr. W. Russell Callender will become the next Director of the Washington Sea Grant program in September.  Dr. Callender is a committed champion for coastal science and conservation and brings more than 30 years of experience in science, policy, and management to Washington Sea Grant.  This includes several years as the Assistant Director of the Virginia Sea Grant Program. He has spent the last eighteen years at NOAA, and most recently, as the Assistant Administrator for NOAA’s National Ocean Service, where he managed a yearly budget of $565 million and oversaw the work of more 1,700 individuals over 50 locations nationwide.

Draft Report on Federal Priorities for Ocean Science and Technology Released for Public Comment – On June 27 the Administration released a draft interagency report entitled Science and Technology for America’s Oceans: A Decadal Vision. The draft report was prepared by the interagency Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST).  The Administration is requesting comment by August 27, 2018.  America’s unrestricted access to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Gulf of Mexico, Western Rivers, Great Lakes, and Arctic region powers domestic and global commerce. The ease of moving cargo and people beyond its coasts fuels the Nation’s competitive advantage, advances trade, generates capital, and drives the domestic economy forward, in turn projecting strength abroad and safeguarding its national interests. Ensuring responsible ocean stewardship with science and technology (S&T) breakthroughs depends on a strategic Federal portfolio supported by foundational basic research. Science and Technology for America’s Oceans: A Decadal Vision identifies research needs and areas of opportunity within the ocean S&T enterprise for the coming decade, 2018-2028. This vision identifies five goals to advance U.S. ocean S&T and the Nation in the coming decade: (1) Understand the Ocean in the Earth System; (2) Promote Economic Prosperity; (3) Ensure Maritime Security; (4) Safeguard Human Health; and (5) Develop Resilient Coastal Communities. Each goal is supplemented with specific objectives and actionable priorities to achieve those objectives.  More information on this report and instructions for submitting comments can be found here

Members of New STEM Education Advisory Panel Announced -- Last week, the National Science Foundation announced the initial membership roster of the newly formed STEM Education Advisory Panel. Created by the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, its primary duty is to advise the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM), an interagency coordination body that is responsible for developing five-year strategic plans for federal STEM education programs. CoSTEM is due to issue an update to the current plan by the end of fiscal year 2018.  The panel is composed for individuals from nonprofit, business, academic and informal education organizations including Dr. Jacqueline Huntoon, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Michigan Technological University.

Bluefin Tuna Research Program -- The BTRP program provides opportunity to compete for financial assistance for projects which seek to increase and improve the working relationship between fisheries researchers from the NMFS, state fishery agencies, universities, other research institutions and U.S. fishery interests (recreational and commercial) focusing on northern bluefin tuna in the Atlantic Ocean. The program is a means of advancing research objectives to address the information needs to improve the science-based fisheries management for Atlantic bluefin tuna. This program addresses NOAA's mission goal to "Protect, Restore, and Manage the Use of Coastal and Ocean Resources through an Ecosystem Approach to Management.".  The FY 2018 funding opportunity is available here.

Lane Genatowski to be Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy at the Department of Energy -- Mr. Genatowski is currently a managing partner in investments in Dividend Income Advisors, a firm he founded in 2012.  Prior to that, Mr. Genatowski was a senior energy investment banker and business group manager at JP Morgan Chase, Kidder, Peabody, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.  His involvement in the energy industry started in 1976 as an attorney at Hawkins, Delafield & Wood in New York.  Mr. Genatowski earned a bachelor’s degree from the City University of New York and a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law.  He currently resides in Houston, Texas.

James Morhard Nominated to be Deputy Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration -- Mr. Morhard currently serves as the U.S. Senate Deputy Sergeant at Arms.  Previously, he served as Staff Director of the Senate Appropriations Committee where he managed the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies and the Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies. Mr. Morhard began his career in the Secretary of the Navy’s Office of the Comptroller. He earned his B.S. in accounting from St. Francis University, M.B.A from George Washington University, and J.D. from Georgetown University.  NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine had been publicly promoting Janet Kavandi, Director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center and a former astronaut, for the slot.

William Bryan to be the Under Secretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security --Mr. Bryan currently serves as Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  As the science and technology advisor to the DHS Secretary, he leads the research, development, innovation, and testing activities in support of DHS operational components and first responders across the Nation.  Previously, he was the President of ValueBridge International’s Energy Group and held leadership roles in the Departments of Energy Defense.  Mr. Bryan is a United States Army veteran.  He graduated summa cum laude from Colorado Technical University and earned his M.S. from the Joint Military Intelligence College.

Scott Hutchins to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education and Economics at the Department of Agriculture -- Dr. Hutchins currently serves as the global leader of integrated field sciences for Corteva Agriscience and as an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska.  Previously, he served as president of the Entomological Society of America.  Dr. Hutchins earned his B.S. in entomology from Auburn University, M.A. from Mississippi State University, and Ph.D. from Iowa State University.

F. Fleming Crim Rejoins NSF as Chief Operating Officer – Dr. Fleming Crim, who served for several years at NSF as its Assistant Director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, has returned to NSF as its Chief Operating Officer.  He was welcomed back to NSF during the National Science Board meeting that took place on July 18.

Department of Homeland Security to Host National Cybersecurity Summit -- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will host a National Cybersecurity Summit on July 31, 2018 at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York City, New York. The DHS National Cybersecurity Summit will bring together a broad group of representatives from across government including officials from Department of Defense, National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Energy, and Department of Treasury. They will be joined by academia and industry CEOs across sectors including telecom, financial, and energy to lay out a vision for a collective defense model to protect our nation’s critical infrastructure. Through panels, keynote addresses, and breakout sessions, the summit will serve as a launching point for a number of DHS initiatives to advance cybersecurity and critical infrastructure risk management.

DARPA Defense Sciences Office Sponsors Proposers Day for Space Environment Exploitation (SEE) Program -- The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Defense Sciences Office (DSO) is sponsoring a Proposers Day to provide information to potential proposers on the objectives of an anticipated Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the Space Environment Exploitation (SEE) program. The Proposers Day will be held on July 31, 2018 from 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM at the Executive Conference Center (4075 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 350, Arlington, VA 22203). The event will be webcast for those who would like to participate remotely. Advance registration is required both for attending the Proposers Day in person and for viewing the webcast.  Additional information regarding this SN can be found here.  

DARPA Defense Science Office Funding Opportunity -- The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Defense Sciences Office (DSO) is issuing a Disruption Opportunity (DO) Special Notice (SN) inviting submissions of innovative basic research concepts exploring radically new architectures and approaches in Artificial Intelligence (AI) that incorporate prior knowledge, such as known physical laws, to augment sparse data and to ensure robust operation. The Physics of AI (PAI) basic research Disruption Opportunity aims to develop novel AI architectures, algorithms and approaches that “bake in” the physics, mathematics and prior knowledge relevant to an application domain in order to address the technical challenges in application of AI in scientific discovery, human-AI collaboration, and a variety of defense applications. Additional information regarding this DO can be found here.

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Coastal Resiliency Funding Opportunity Totaling $30 Million Announced -- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has released a Request for Proposals in which NFWF, in partnership with NOAA, will make investments for the restoration and strengthening of natural systems so they can protect coastal communities from the impacts of storms and floods and enable them to recover more quickly, while also enhancing habitats for important fish and wildlife populations.  NFWF will award up to $30 million in grants to create, expand and restore natural systems in areas that will both increase protection for communities from coastal storms, sea and lake level changes, flooding, and coastal erosion and improve valuable habitats for fish and wildlife species.  The program will be implemented as a national program focused on enhancement of resilience for coastal communities across the U.S., and award decisions will be made based on regional circumstances, needs, and priorities. Project interventions that help reduce regional threats, include, but are not limited to: changes in sea and Great Lakes levels; storm surge; ocean surge and tsunamis; increased flooding, including inland flooding, due to storms; subsidence; erosion; loss of sea ice; sea level rise and high tides, saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers, or other impacts. Many of these threats are connected (e.g. subsidence exacerbates relative sea level rise leading to increased flooding), and the program anticipates that the proposed projects will address reducing vulnerability to multiple threats.  More information on this funding opportunity can be found here.

NIH Issues RFI for Research under its Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative – The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is exploring options for conducting a multi-site national research effort in up to three communities to develop and test approaches for the systematic implementation and sustainability of an integrated set of evidence-based interventions across healthcare, behavioral health, justice systems, state and local governments, and community organizations to prevent and treat opioid misuse.  The goals are to decrease fatal and non-fatal overdoses, decrease the incidence of opioid related infectious diseases (e.g. Hepatitis C and HIV), increase the number of individuals receiving medication-assisted treatment, increase the proportion retained in treatment beyond 6 months, and increase the number of individuals receiving needed recovery support services.  More information on this request for information (RFI) can be found here.

NIH launched HEAL with a $500 million appropriation in FY 2018 to provide scientific solutions to the national opioid.  NIH has identified a set of research priorities reflecting needs across the lifespan, areas of promising scientific opportunity, and concrete strategies capable of providing rapid and durable solutions to the opioid crisis.  Under the heading of Improve Treatments for Opioid Misuse and Addiction NIH will emphasize: expansion og therapeutic options for opioid addiction, overdose prevention and reversal; enhanced treatments for infants born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)/Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome; and optimizing effective treatment strategies for opioid addiction.  Under the heading of Enhance Pain Management NIH will increase support for: understanding the biological underpinnings of chronic pain; acceleration of the discovery and pre-clinical development of non-addictive pain treatments; advancement in new non-addictive pain treatments through the clinical pipeline.  More information on the NIH HEAL Initiative can be found here.  

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Advances the National Quantum Initiative Act – The House Science Committee has reported out legislation to authorize the establishment of coordinated interagency program to support the research and development of quantum information science and its technology applications.  The bill would also expand the number of researchers, educators, and students with training in quantum information science and technology; improve interagency planning and coordination of Federal research and development related to quantum information science and engineering; and promote collaboration among the Federal Government, national laboratories, industry, and universities.  Roles and responsibilities are designated in the bill for the National Institute for Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy.  An interagency coordination committee chaired by NIST, NSF, and DOE would be established under this bill along with an external advisory committee.  The bill was reported out of committee unanimously on June 27.  A copy of the legislation can be found here.

Office of Naval Research Seeks Applicants for Young Investigator Awards -- The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is interested in receiving proposals for its Young Investigator Program (YIP). ONR's Young Investigator Program (YIP) seeks to identify and support academic scientists and engineers who are in their first or second full-time tenure-track or tenure-track-equivalent academic appointment, who have received their PhD or equivalent degree on or after 01 January 2011, and who show exceptional promise for doing creative research. The objectives of this program are to attract outstanding faculty members of Institutions of Higher Education (hereafter also called "universities") to the Department of the Navy's Science and Technology (S&T) research program, to support their research, and to encourage their teaching and research careers.  Individuals who are holding non-profit equivalent positions are encouraged to apply. Proposals addressing research areas (as described in the ONR Science and Technology Department section of ONR's website ) which are of interest to ONR program officers will be considered. Download the solicitation here.

Funding Opportunity for FY2018 Intelligence Community Centers for Academic Excellence (IC CAE) Critical Studies Program – The IC CAE program is a congressionally mandated program designed to promote the acquisition of diverse talent consistent with the U.S. Intelligence Community’s (IC) Human Capital Vision 2020.  One outcome from the program is to increase gender and ethnic diversity in the IC workforce.  The IC CAE program’s purpose is to develop a diverse cadre of qualified intelligence professionals to carry the Nation’s long-term security initiatives by creating a competitive, knowledgeable and diverse workforce via multi-year grants to colleges and universities.  The IC CAE Critical Technology Studies Program (CTSP) is looking for applications that expand capacity, capability, research, and training in the data science of machine learning, artificial intelligence, computer vision and computationally efficient modeling techniques for U.S. students in areas of interest to the IC.  Approximately $10 million is available to make approximately 5 awards.  More information on this funding opportunity is available here.

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Administration Releases New Draft Ocean Science and Technology Priorities Plan – On the heels of a new executive order related to the National Ocean Policy, and a flurry of news articles (including one in the New York Times) suggesting NOAA was dropping climate as part of its mission statement (which has since been refuted by NOAA management), the Administration has published for public review and comment a long awaited draft report of updated ocean science and technology priorities for federal agencies.  This report, prepared by the interagency subcommittee on ocean science and technology, has been under development since 2016 and is now out for public comment.  It is an update to the 2007 report on federal ocean science priorities, Charting the Course for Ocean Science.

Science and Technology for America’s Oceans: A Decadal Vision identifies pressing research needs and areas of opportunity within the ocean S&T enterprise for the coming decade, 2018-2028. This vision identifies five goals to advance U.S. ocean S&T and the Nation in the coming decade: (1) Understand the Ocean in the Earth System; (2) Promote Economic Prosperity; (3) Ensure Maritime Security; (4) Safeguard Human Health; and (5) Develop Resilient Coastal Communities. Each goal is supplemented with specific objectives and actionable priorities to achieve those objectives.  Areas of immediate ocean research and technology opportunities include: fully integrate Big Data approaches in Earth system science; advance monitoring and predictive modeling capabilities; improve data integration in decision support tools; support ocean exploration and characterization; and support ongoing research and technology partnerships.  

This last item could be leading up to the re-invigoration of the National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP).  NOPP facilitates partnerships between federal agencies, academia, and industry to advance ocean science research and education. Through this collaboration, federal agencies can leverage resources to invest in priorities that fall between agency missions or that are too large for any single agency to support.  The new EO on National Ocean Policy and the FY 19 Senate Appropriations Report on NOAA also includes support for NOPP’s re-invigoration.

The draft ocean science and technology report says "...Two cross-cutting topics emerged as critical components among all goals in this document. They include the modernization and management of ocean-related research infrastructure, including ocean-observing and modeling capabilities, and an educated, diverse, and dynamic workforce. State-of-the-art research infrastructure provides the United States with unique competencies, allows for advances in discovery, minimizes potential economic and societal losses, and ensures the S&T workforce has the capabilities it needs to conduct world-leading ocean research. Infrastructure and advanced technologies such as airborne, underwater, and land-based assets support U.S. ocean research and technology interests. Modernized technologies, and improvement in capabilities such as data acquisition and high-performance computing, are two related priorities relevant to all goals in this document. U.S. economic well-being and global leadership in S&T depends on an ocean-literate society and a well-trained workforce of the future. A strong “blue” workforce will enable the Nation to address tomorrow’s ocean needs and contribute more jobs, enhanced production, and national prosperity..."

he executive summary concludes with following statement, "This document presents a decadal vision for an innovative and collaborative ocean S&T enterprise that promotes American security and prosperity while conserving the marine environment for present and future generations. Carrying out the research goals will require investments in and coordination of ocean S&T across all levels of government and private industry, academia, and nongovernmental organizations over the long term. These goals will be achieved over years, working with Federal and non-Federal partners to direct and leverage the necessary resources. Additionally, while this document will provide important guidance to Federal agencies on ocean S&T priorities, implementation of this plan is dependent upon available resources and will vary year to year."

The Administration is requesting comments from the community on this draft report by August 27, 2018.  More information can be found here.  Comments should be sent to oceandecadalvision@ostp.eop.gov .

Congressional Budget Office Issues Report on Increasing Federal Budget Deficits – On June 26, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its annual long term budget outlook report.  With serious implications for future discretionary spending for defense and non-defense activities, the CBO report concludes, “If current laws remain generally unchanged, CBO projects, federal budget deficits and debt would increase over the next 30 years—reaching the highest level of debt relative to GDP in the nation’s history by far.”

At 78 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), federal debt held by the public is now at its highest level since shortly after World War II. If current laws generally remained unchanged, CBO projects, the deficit would approach 100 percent of GDP by the end of the next decade and 152 percent by 2048. That amount would be the highest in the nation’s history by far. Moreover, if lawmakers changed current law to maintain certain policies now in place—preventing a significant increase in individual income taxes in 2026, for example—the result would be even larger increases in debt. The prospect of large and growing debt poses substantial risks for the nation and presents policymakers with significant challenges.

In this report, CBO presents its projections of federal spending, revenues, deficits, and debt for the next three decades and describes some possible consequences of those budgetary outcomes. 

NIH Could Receive $2 billion or 5.4% Increase Based on the Senate’s Recommendation – This week, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) Subcommittee approved the fiscal year (FY) 2019 bill funding the National Institutes of Health (NIH). According to the committee’s summary , the bill provides $39.1 billion, an increase of $2 billion, or 5.4 percent, above FY 2018. Within the total for NIH, increases are provided for Alzheimer’s disease research, the BRAIN initiative, the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program, the All of Us precision medicine initiative, and research on a universal flu vaccine. The bill provides increases to every Institute and Center to continue investments in innovative research to advance fundamental knowledge and speed the development of new therapies, diagnostics, and preventive measures to improve the health of all Americans. 

The House LHHS Subcommittee approved the NIH funding bill on June 15 and recommended a $1.25 billion increase for the agency. The House’s recommendation also states the funding recommended provides an increase for every institute and center at NIH; states that the Appropriations Committee expects NIH to support an increase in the number of new and competing Research Project Grants with a focus on early-stage investigators and investigators seeking first-time renewals; and rejects the proposal in the Administration FY 2019 NIH budget request that would limit the percentage of research salaries that can be charged to NIH grants. The committee also requested that NIH include an analysis of how the proposed salary cap would impact academic institutions and the number and average costs of NIH grants in the agency’s FY 2020 budget request.

Letter of Intent Deadline for NSF’s PREEVENTS Approaches – The deadline for submitting a letter of intent to NSF’s ongoing Prediction of and Resilience against Extreme Events Program (PREEVENTS) is July 27, 2018.  NSF and the Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) have supported basic research in scientific and engineering disciplines necessary to understand natural hazards and extreme events, including through the Interdisciplinary Research in Hazards and Disasters (Hazards SEES) program and multiple core programs in the GEO Directorate.  PREEVENTS is a successor to Hazards SEES and is one element of the NSF-wide Risk and Resilience activity, which has the overarching goal of improving predictability and risk assessment, and increasing resilience, in order to reduce the impact of extreme events on our life, society, and economy.  PREEVENTS provides an additional mechanism to support research and related activities that will improve our understanding of the fundamental processes underlying natural hazards and extreme events in the geosciences. PREEVENTS is focused on natural hazards and extreme events, and not on technological or deliberately human-caused hazards.  PREEVENTS seeks projects that will (1) enhance understanding of the fundamental processes underlying natural hazards and extreme events on various spatial and temporal scales, as well as the variability inherent in such hazards and events, and (2) improve our capability to model and forecast such hazards and events.  In addition, PREEVENTS projects will improve our understanding of the effects of natural hazards and extreme events and will enable development, with support by other programs and organizations, of new tools to enhance societal preparedness and resilience against such impacts.  More information on this NSF funding opportunity can be found here.

National Sea Grant Advisory Board Releases Biennial Report to Congress – The National Sea Grant Advisory Board has published its biennial report on The State of Sea Grant – 2018 Biennial Report to Congress.  In its transmittal letter to Congress, the Board said, “…The National Sea Grant College Program (Sea Grant) continues to provide relevant, useful, valuable, and timely science, extension, and education to coastal and Great Lakes regions that result in more jobs and safer and more productive communities. Almost half of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of the coast, and these numbers are growing. The challenges this nation will face along our coasts in the next 50 years will differ from those of the last 50 years, owing largely to the effects of a changing climate including more extreme storms, sea-level rise, changing ocean and Great Lakes temperatures, and ocean acidification. Sea Grant continues to be well-positioned to address these challenges. The Sea Grant model of organizational effectiveness through research, extension, and education activities leads to expert driven and stakeholder engaged action that is economical, socially equitable, and ecologically sound—all of which are necessary to tackle these thorny issues. Sea Grant is founded on strong partnerships with academia, private industry, local communities, and state and federal agencies that leverage additional expertise and funding to achieve Sea Grant’s mission ‘to enhance the practical use and conservation of coastal, marine, and Great Lakes resources in order to create a sustainable economy and environment… ‘.

Appropriators Meet with the President – Science and Technology Raised by Members Present – On June 26, the President met with the leadership of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to discuss funding key priorities in the FY 2019 budget process.  Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), when recognized by the President, had the following exchange:

THE PRESIDENT:  Lamar, do you have anything to say?

SENATOR ALEXANDER:  Sure, Mr. President.  First, thank you.  Thank you for having us.  And on the appropriations bill, we have two parts to our budget.  One part is going through the roof.  That’s the entitlement part.  The part we’re working on has gone up, over the last 10 years, about the rate of inflation.  And according to the Congressional Budget Office, will go up about the rate of inflation.

And these are, for the most part, things you and I have — that you have advocated.  As you’ve said, more than half is defense.  So that’s good.

Another thing that’s good is our national laboratories.  Secretary Perry went to Oak Ridge last week.  We’re in a competition with China to see who has the number-one supercomputing.  Thanks to the last two appropriations bills you signed, we are now number one in supercomputing in this country, which we need to be.

THE PRESIDENT:  We just moved ahead.  That’s right.

SENATOR ALEXANDER:  We moved ahead.  Now, Senator Blunt has chaired a committee today that just reported out, for the fourth consecutive year, record funding for the National Institutes of Health.  You’ve got great people over there working on curing cancer and other things.

So I would suggest that a part of your America First agenda would be the items that our appropriations for science, technology, and research (emphasis added)— you’ve signed two appropriations bills that do that.  Secretary Perry, Senator Blunt — those things.  I think that fits your America First agenda.

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Administration Establishes New Executive Order Regarding National Ocean Policy – On June 19, the Administration released a new Executive Order (EO) entitled, Executive Order Regarding the Ocean Policy to Advance the Economic, Security, and Environmental Interests of the United States.  The Administration has also revoked the National Ocean Policy established by the Obama Administration via Executive Order 13547 of July 19, 2010.  As stated in the new EO, the purpose of this new National Ocean Policy statement is to recognize,

“…. the ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes waters of the United States are foundational to the economy, security, global competitiveness, and well-being of the United States. Ocean industries employ millions of Americans and support a strong national economy. Domestic energy production from Federal waters strengthens the Nation’s security and reduces reliance on imported energy. Our Armed Forces protect our national interests in the ocean and along the Nation’s coasts. Goods and materials that support our economy and quality of life flow through maritime commerce. Our fisheries resources help feed the Nation and present tremendous export opportunities. Clean, healthy waters support fishing, boating, and other recreational opportunities for all Americans.

“This order maintains and enhances these and other benefits to the Nation through improved public access to marine data and information, efficient interagency coordination on ocean-related matters, and engagement with marine industries, the science and technology community, and other ocean stakeholders. To advance these national interests, this order recognizes and supports Federal participation in regional ocean partnerships, to the extent appropriate and consistent with national security interests and statutory authorities…”

The Administration’s new EO stresses economic and security concerns, interagency coordination, promotes the lawful use of the ocean by agencies, facilitate the economic growth of coastal communities and promote ocean industries, advance ocean science and technology, enhance the Nation’s energy security, and ensure that federal regulations and management decisions do not prevent productive and sustainable use of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes.  The EO establishes a new interagency Ocean Policy Committee chaired by the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

President Trump’s executive order eliminates the National Ocean Council, replacing it with an interagency Ocean Policy Committee charged with implementing the new policy to “provide economic, security, and environmental benefits” for Americans. The policy aims to “facilitate the economic growth of coastal communities and promote ocean industries,” and “ensure that federal regulations and management decisions do not prevent productive and sustainable use of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources.”

While both executive orders recognize the need for science to inform decision-making, the Trump Administration’s new National Ocean Policy eliminates the goal to “increase scientific understanding of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems as part of the global interconnected systems of air, land, ice, and water, including their relationships to humans and their activities.” In addition, the new policy replaces the mandate for federal leadership in creating science- and ecosystem-based regional ocean plans, limiting federal participation to state-driven regional ocean partnerships.

The new EO is being met with both strong concerns and support by the relevant community.  “The President’s executive order undermines our ability to sustain ocean and coastal resources over time for the benefit of this and future generations of Americans,” says Monterey Bay Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard. “The new policy places too much emphasis on short-term economic gain over long-term ocean health and prosperity.”

The National Resources Defense Council expressed alarm that the new EO no longer requires federal members to continue planning together with states and tribes to provide for coordinated ocean protection and there is no longer a national policy to promote health ocean ecosystems. 

Rear Admiral (Ret.) Jonathan White, President and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership said, “The ocean has much to offer, but only through better understanding of this precious resource that covers 71 percent of our Earth’s surface can we sustain and advance economic, national, homeland, food, and energy securities.  Our unparalleled ocean science and technology community can and must be utilized to enable a healthy and productive ocean that thrives as a source of employment, energy, commerce, food, and recreation for billions around the globe.

Meanwhile, the National Ocean Policy Coalition managing director Jack Belcher said this was "a welcome development that embraces principles we all agree on, such as encouraging data and information sharing, interagency and inter-jurisdictional collaboration, and partnerships within and among the public and private sectors". 

Administration Releases Government-wide Reorganization Proposal – This week the Administration released a new report entitled, Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century – Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations.  Since June 2017, the Office of Management and Budget has been working on a series of organizational reform issues culminating in the release of a new report containing over 30 major organizational proposals that would impact nearly every agency of government.

The proposal would merge the departments of Education and Labor into a new Department of Education and the Workforce. Welfare and food aid programs would be consolidated into the newly named Department of Health and Public Welfare, and rural housing assistance, now at the Department of Agriculture, would shift to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Food safety programs, now overseen by the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration, would be consolidated into a new Federal Food Safety Agency.

Other recommendations include:  consolidation of federal graduate research fellowships; improving NASA’s agility through increased use of Federally Funded Research and Development Centers; Consolidation of the Department of Energy’s Applied Energy offices; Merger of the National Marine Fisheries Service with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Consolidate mission alignment of the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works with those of other Federal Agencies; and restructuring the U.S. Postal Service.  More details on this reorganization report can be found here.

Nominee for DOE’s Renewable Energy Programs Announced -- Daniel Simmons is being nominated to the Assistant Secretary for Energy, Efficiency, and Renewable Energy at the Department of Energy.  Mr. Simmons has served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at the U.S. Department of Energy.  He oversaw technology development in the energy efficiency, renewable power, and sustainable transportation sectors, leading EERE to achieve its vision of a strong and prosperous America powered by clean, affordable, and secure energy.  Prior to government service, Mr. Simmons served as the Institute for Energy Research’s Vice President for Policy promoting affordable energy for all Americans.  He previously served as director of the Natural Resources Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council, was a research fellow at the Mercatus Center, and worked as professional staff on the Committee on Resources of the United States House of Representatives.  Mr. Simmons is a graduate of Utah State University and George Mason University School of Law.

Living Shorelines Act Introduced in Senate – Working off legislation previously introduced in the House, Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced legislation that would create a new grant program within NOAA for nature-based shoreline protection projects known as living shorelines.  Living shorelines are a type of green infrastructure that protect and stabilize coastal edges by using natural materials such as plants, sand, shell, or rock. Unlike a concrete seawall or other artificial structure, which impedes the growth of plants and animals, living shorelines can grow over time, allowing them to adapt to changing conditions. Using green and natural infrastructure, communities can create a buffer that mitigates the impacts of shoreline flooding by reducing wave energy and decreasing erosion. Green infrastructure is cost-effective and can also provide benefits such as improved local water quality and ecology.

The Living Shorelines Act: Establishes a 1:1 grant program to help states, towns, and nonprofits implement climate resilient living shoreline projects and encourages the use of natural materials in the protection of coastal communities; directs NOAA to develop criteria to select grantees based on the potential of the project to protect the community, the environmental conditions of the site, the ecological benefits of the project, and the ability of the project to mitigate erosion and flooding, absorb coastal storms, and sustain coastal ecosystems; projects must be able to demonstrate that they have or will be able to obtain any local, state, or federal permits or necessary authorizations; prioritizes areas that have received a Stafford Act disaster declaration or areas that have a documented history of coastal inundation, flooding, or erosion; and authorizes $25 million a year for these grants.  Text of the legislation can be found here

This legislation is an amended version of the Living Shorelines Act (H.R.4525), introduced by Rep. Pallone. In addition to Senators Harris and Murphy, the legislation was introduced by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tom Carper (D-DE), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). The House version, H.R.4525, was introduced by Rep. Pallone (D-NJ) and currently has 24 cosponsors.

FY18 Rescission Bill Fails in the Senate – On June 20 the Senate voted to reject the Administration’s proposal to rescind about $15 billion in funding included in the FY 2018 omnibus appropriations act signed into law in March 2018.  Congress had until June 22 to pass the rescissions package, which passed the House last week, by a simple majority. The Administration first proposed the rescissions package in May, but revised its request earlier this month. The revised measure dropped the amount of spending to be rescinded from roughly $15.4 billion to approximately $14.7 billion. The revision stripped out provisions targeting federal highway funding after a Government Accountability Office analysis warned it may not legally be eligible for rescissions. A growing Ebola outbreak in Congo also led the White House to remove provisions slashing emergency funds to combat Ebola.  About half of the proposed rescission was to come from the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Senate Appropriations Committee Marks Up FY 2019 Funding for NSF, NOAA, and NASA – On June 14 the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up and reported out the FY 2019 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Act.  The bill contains $63 billion to support law enforcement, economic prosperity, scientific research, space exploration, and other national priorities.  The FY2019 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which is $3.4 billion above the FY2018 enacted level, funds the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is funded at $8.1 billion, $301 million above the fiscal year 2018 level.  This funding includes $6.56 billion for NSF’s research and research facilities, an increase of $222 million above the fiscal year 2018 level and $405 million more than the President’s request.  NSF’s education and training programs are funded at $915 million, an increase of $13 million above the fiscal year 2018 level. The bill also includes $89.2 million is provided for the design and construction of three Regional Class Research Vessels (RCRV), with $60.5 million dedicated to the start of the third ship.  

For NSF the Senate has transferred the Antarctic Modernization program to the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account, thus freeing up an additional $100 million for individual investigator, group, and center research and education activities.  The Committee included language on the importance of adequately supporting major scientific facilities and instrumentation, expressed support for both NSF’s 10 Big Ideas and core research programs via additional funds and a careful allocation of those funds.  The Committee recognized the importance of the “Windows on the Universe” and “Navigating the Arctic” big ideas as well as the “Rules of Life” initiative.  The Committee emphasized the importance of ensuring NSF-funded marine research vessels with unique capabilities remain available to the academic community for marine seismology research.

For the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the bill provides $5.48 billion for NOAA, a $426 million decrease below the FY2018 enacted level, to continue core NOAA operations including: ocean monitoring; fisheries management; coastal grants to states; aquaculture research; weather satellites; and severe weather forecasting. The Subcommittee rejected the administration’s request to cut funding for climate, weather, and oceans research by 41 percent, and instead funds the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) research at $508 million.  

The bill again rejects the proposal to eliminate NOAA programs like Sea Grant, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS), Coastal Zone Management (CZM) grants, and the National Ocean and Coastal Security Fund.  The Sea Grant program is funded in the Senate bill at a total of $83 million of which $12 million is for marine aquaculture.   This is $6.5 million above the comparable fiscal year 2018 level.  Within the Sea Grant appropriation, the Committee stressed the importance of the Knauss Fellowship and STEM education programs, marine aquaculture and also provided $2 million for lobster research.  NERRS is funded at $27.5 million, $2.5 million above the fiscal year 2018 level.  CZM grants are funded at $80 million, $5 million above the fiscal year 2018 level, and the National Ocean and Coastal Security Fund is funded at the fiscal year 2018 level of $30 million.  The bill provides $928 million to continue construction of NOAA’s three new Polar Weather Satellites, an increase of $50 million above the request.  The bill also provides $408 billion for NOAA’s GOES weather satellites.  The bill provides $75 million to complete a second NOAA survey vessel. These vessels enable NOAA to map the ocean floor, support weather forecasts, conduct oceanographic and climate research, and improve ecosystem and fisheries management. 

The Committee provided $30M for coastal resiliency grants – so-called Title IX funding – to be administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation with consideration for proposals that enhance ocean and coastal management; bolster coastal infrastructure and resilience; support regional collaborative efforts and partnerships; advance the collection, synthesis, and public sharing of ocean data; and help coastal communities adapt to changing ocean conditions. In addition the Senate bill provides an increase of $1 million for marine debris, reinstatement of the Prescott Marine Mammal Stranding grant program, an extra $1 million for competitive research and management grants for existing marine national monuments; $5 million for NOAA to work with academic institutions and non-governmental research organizations to establish innovative restoration projects to restore degraded coral reefs; an additional $1.4 million for enforcement of Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing; restoration of the competitive grants for climate research; $6 million for arctic research; $8 million to advance the National Oceanographic Partnership Program; and $28 million for NOAA education programs including $15.5 million for the Education Partnership Program with minority serving institutions.

The bill includes a provision reinforcing “Buy America” provisions with respect to the construction and acquisition of ships.  It also includes a requirement for a review of the suitability of the fleet of research vessels for the Great Lakes.

This bill provides $21.3 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which is $587 million above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level.  The bill supports a space program balanced among aeronautics, science, technology development, and human space flight.  NASA Science is funded at $6.4 billion which is $179 million more than the fiscal year 2018 level.  The bill continues funding for the Wide-Field InfraRed Survey Telescope ($352 million), Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, and Ocean Ecosystem ($161 million), Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory-Pathfinder ($18 million), Deep Space Climate Observatory ($1.7 million), Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 ($5.1 million), and Carbon Monitoring System ($10 million).

Aeronautics is supported at $725 million, an increase of $40 million above the fiscal year 2018 level, to ensure continued U.S. leadership in aviation.  For human space flight, the bill contains full support for commercial cargo and crew to support the International Space Station and for new vehicles that will take humans beyond low Earth orbit, the Space Launch System ($2.15 billion) and Orion ($1.35 billion).  The bill contains full funding for Exploration Ground Systems ($540 million) plus $255 million to complete a second mobile launch platform and associated upper stage.  Building on 30 years of NASA expertise in repairing satellites in space, the bill includes $180 million for the Restore-L satellite servicing mission.  The proposal to cancel key NASA Education programs is rejected, and these programs continue to be funded in the bill – Space Grant ($44 million), the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Technology ($21 million), and the Minority University Research and Education Project ($33 million).  The Education program is renamed “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Opportunities.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2019 Interior/EPA Appropriations Bill – On June 14, the Senate Appropriations Committee took up the Subcommittee’s FY 2019 Interior/EPA Appropriations Bill. As marked up and reported by the full Committee the bill includes a total of $35.9 billion for the U.S. Department of Interior, including the U.S. Geological Survey, the Forest Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other agencies.  At $35.9 billion, this bill is $600 million over the FY 2018 level and almost $8 billion more than requested by the White House.  The Senate bill does NOT contain any so-called “riders” or controversial legislative provisions.  Specific highlights of this bill include:

U.S. Department of the Interior – $13.109 billion overall for the Interior Department, including full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – $1.34 billion for the BLM, an increase of $11 million above the FY2018 enacted level.  Funds provided ensure a vital energy and minerals program and make important investments in improving public land management.   

National Park Service (NPS) – $3.21 billion for the NPS, an increase of $13.4 million above the FY2018 enacted level.  This includes increases for construction backlog, maintenance, and new park units.  $23 million is included for the Centennial Challenge grant program, which provides matching grants to address backlog maintenance and other needs in the national parks.  The bill maintains funding for the Heritage Area program at the enacted level of $20.3 million.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) – $1.57 billion for the FWS, which is $19.7 million below the FY2018 enacted level.  Increases include funding for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).  The bill also provides funds to support FWS implementation of the RESTORE Act and to maintain continued operation of fish hatcheries. The bill continues the prohibition on listing the greater sage-grouse as an endangered species.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) – $1.148 billion for the USGS, equal to the FY2018 enacted level. Within this amount, important program increases have been included for energy and mineral resources, mapping, natural hazards, and water resources.  The bill also provides the requested funds for the Landsat 9 project and facility relocation expenses.  The bill includes an increase of $1.8 million above the FY18 level for the 3DEP mapping program.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – $8 billion for EPA, equal to the FY2018 enacted level. The Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds receive more than $2.86 billion, an increase over the FY2018 enacted level.  Additionally, the Water Infrastructure Finance Act (WIFIA) program is funded at $63 million, which will support loans to address water infrastructure challenges.  Categorical grant programs that help states implement environmental regulations are increased by $17 million.  The bill rejects the Administration’s proposals to cut research by 45 percent, grants by 48 percent, and regulatory and enforcement programs by 25 percent.  It also rejects the request to fund large scale buyouts to cut 3,500 agency staff, roughly 17 percent of the workforce. The bill provides $706 million for EPA Science and Technology which is level with FY 2018.  Report language emphasizing STAR grants and Harmful Algal Blooms was also included in the Senate mark.  The bill provides $25 million for lead contamination testing at schools and child care centers, $30 million for lead reduction projects in rural areas, and $15 million for water projects in communities working to improve compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, which is $20 million more than the fiscal year 2018 level for these three programs combined.  

The Committee has restored funding for key regional programs including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Chesapeake Bay program, the Gulf of Mexico program, and the Lake Champlain program.  The Committee has included $26.7 million for the National Estuary Program and said, “…estuaries provide critical ecosystem services that protect human health and public safety. These include water filtration, flood control, habitat enhancement and restoration, shoreline stabilization, erosion prevention, and the protection of coastal communities during hurricanes and storms. The Committee recognizes that many industries rely on healthy estuaries, and the Committee has provided funding to ensure the protection of these critical ecosystems.”

U.S. Forest Service (USFS) – $6.29 billion for the USFS includes investments in funding for improved health and management of our nation’s forests, as well as increased funding to fight wildfire.  A $5 million increase for hazardous fuels reduction is provided to help prevent catastrophic wildfires, particularly in the wildland-urban interface.   

Wildland Firefighting – $4.345 billion to fight wildland fire, representing fire suppression funding at the 10-year average and $900 million in additional funding in anticipation of regular suppression funding being insufficient to cover the costs of fighting wildfire.  The bill includes $724 million for the Forest Service and $176 million for the Department of the Interior. 

Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) – $3.005 million, an increase of $5,000 above the FY2018 enacted level, for the CEQ.

DOE Releases Report on Basic Research: Key to Modern Technologies -- Basic research and scientific facilities sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE) have played a critical role over the past 40 years in the development of a wide range of present-day technologies according to a new report released today by the Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (BESAC).

The report, titled A Remarkable Return on Investment in Fundamental Research, explores the connections between DOE-sponsored fundamental research in fields such as physics, materials science, and chemistry and the present-day technologies in information and other fields that pervade our lives.  The critical role of DOE in these technological advances ranges from LED lighting and smartphone communications to more efficient internal combustion engines and lighter vehicles.  The report cites multiple examples of familiar modern-day technologies whose origins can be traced to DOE-sponsored basic research.  It focuses mainly on research supported by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES), the largest of six major program offices within DOE’s Office of Science.

A Periodic Federal Science Update

NOAA RESTORE Funding Opportunity Announced -- The NOAA RESTORE Science Program’s funding competition on long-term trends is now open. This funding competition continues the Science Program’s desire to producing timely and high-quality scientific findings and products to support the management and sustainability of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, including its fisheries. The priority for this competition is identifying, tracking, understanding, and/or predicting trends and variability in the Gulf of Mexico’s living coastal and marine resources and the processes driving them.  Applicants must propose work that addresses this priority in one or more of these areas of emphasis: exploring trends in multiple species; investigating the link between weather and/or climate and trends; and examining the relationship between trends and economic activity. To receive funding, applicants will need to directly address the needs of resource managers and have a clear plan for how their research findings or products will be used by resource managers. The Science Program is making approximately $15 million available now through this competition to fund approximately six projects for five years. An additional $15 million will be available for an additional five years of funding for high performing projects. In total, a project could receive 10 years of continuous support. Pre-proposals, which are required, are due by July 30, 2018 and the deadline for submitting a full application is October 29, 2018. See the full announcement for complete instructions on how to submit a pre-proposal and full application.

NIH Releases Strategic Plan for Data Science -- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released its Strategic Plan for Data Science to capitalize on the opportunities presented by advances in data science.  The plan describes NIH’s overarching goals, strategic objectives, and implementation tactics for promoting the modernization of the NIH-funded biomedical data science ecosystem. Over the course of the next year, NIH will begin implementing its strategy, with some elements of the plan already underway. NIH will continue to seek community input during the implementation phase. 

NIH Moves Ahead with HEAL Initiative – NIH has announced the launch of the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative, an aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. Toward this effort, NIH is nearly doubling funding for research on opioid misuse/addiction and pain from approximately $600 million in fiscal year 2016 to $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2018, made possible from a funding boost by Congress. NIH’s efforts contribute to a government-wide push to meet the President’s goal of ending the opioid crisis.  HEAL will bolster research across the NIH to:

·       Launch a longitudinal study to follow patients 1) after acute onset of musculoskeletal pain and 2) after surgery to identify biomarkers that might predict which individuals are more likely to transition from acute to chronic pain. 

·       Leverage innovative imaging and -omics neurotechnologies developed through the NIH BRAIN Initiative and SPARC program to identify 1) potential new targets for treatment of chronic pain and 2) objective biomarkers to predict which individuals will respond to a treatment.

·       Pursue public-private partnerships to develop new non-addictive pain medicines by sharing data on past and present research projects, and matching researchers with a selection of potentially promising but abandoned pharmaceutical industry compounds to explore their effectiveness for the treatment of pain.

·       Build a clinical trials network that will allow multiple new and repurposed compounds to be tested simultaneously for effectiveness.  This allows ineffective compounds to be weeded out and new compounds to enter trials more swiftly.  The combination of testing compounds that already have received large investments and passed safety testing, and a flexible clinical trials network will significantly accelerate the development of effective therapies.

·       Working with federal and state partners, pilot demonstration projects to test the integration of multiple addiction prevention and treatment options in healthcare and criminal justice settings in states with the highest rates of opioid misuse and overdose to inform evidence-based practice.  Despite multiple effective prevention and treatment approaches, the majority of the 2 million Americans with opioid use disorder do not receive appropriate or adequate treatment for their addiction.

The Initiative will tap into the expertise of the NIH Pain Consortium, which was established to enhance collaboration among NIH institutes, centers and offices that conduct pain research.

Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee to Meet on July 9 – the NIH supported Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee will meet on July 9 to discuss an updated Federal Pain Portfolio Analysis and information about the NIH HEAL Initiative.  The existing pain portfolio analysis was originally developed in 2011.  The purpose of the portfolio analysis is to identify critical gaps in basic and clinical research on the symptoms and causes of pain and making recommendations to ensure the activities of the NIH and other federal agencies are free of unnecessary duplication of effort.  The current federal portfolio analysis is available here.  Information on the July 9 meeting, including instructions for submittal of written comments can be found here.

Congressional Briefing on a New Approach to the Opioid Epidemic – On June 15, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in cooperation with the Congressional Research and Development Caucus is holding a public briefing offering information on new developments in biomedical engineering that may contribute to dealing with the opioid epidemic.  Dr. Christina Smolke from Stanford University and Dr. Lori Setton from Washington University will conduct the briefing.  The briefing will take place on June 15 at noon in Room 2044 Rayburn House Office Building.  Contact AIMBE for additional information.

National Science Board Releases Report on Operations and Maintenance Costs for NSF Facilities – On June 6, the NSB released its new report, “Study of Operations and Maintenance Costs for NSF Facilities.” The report makes three recommendations:

·       NSB and the NSF Director should enhance agency-level ownership of the facility portfolio to elevate strategic and budgetary decisions and the agency’s Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account (MREFC) should allow for greater flexibility. 

·       NSF and NSB should reexamine what share of the agency’s budget should be devoted to research infrastructure.

·       NSB and NSF should develop model funding and governance schemes for the next generation of partnerships at the agency, interagency, and international levels.

Between Fiscal Year (FY) 2002 and FY 2017, NSF’s budget grew, in real terms, an average of 1.1 percent per year while the number of proposals submitted to the agency grew by over 40 percent. This contributed to a decline in success rates across NSF from 29 percent in FY 2002 to 23 percent in FY 2017. At the agency level, O&M outlays grew 3 percent while NSF budgets grew 18 percent over this period.  According to the report, over the past 15-20 years, NSF invested 23.5 percent of its annual budget in research infrastructure--large facilities, midscale, and major research instruments. This is on the low end of the 22-27 percent range recommended by NSB in its 2003 report. The prospect of committing to the future O&M costs that come with new large projects may be discouraging directorates and divisions from embarking on them. The new report is available here.

Digital Coast Hearing and Coral Reef Reauthorization Bill – This week in Washington is Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW 2018) – a week that celebrates the importance of healthy oceans and Great Lakes.  In that context the Senate Commerce Subcommittee chaired by Senator Dan Sullivan (Alaska) chaired a hearing that reviewed the accomplishment of NOAA’s Digital Coast program over the past ten years.  The Digital Coast was developed to meet the needs of the coastal management community. The website provides not only coastal data, but also the tools, training, and information needed to make these data truly useful. Content comes from many sources, all of which are vetted by NOAA.  Data sets range from economic data to satellite imagery. The site contains visualization tools, predictive tools, and tools that make data easier to find and use. Training courses are available online or can be brought to the user’s location. Information is also organized by focus area or topic.  The hearing focused on the value of the digital coast data for local and regional coastal community managers and set the stage for pending legislation that would formally authorize the program. 

In addition to Digital Coast hearing this week, Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (Guam) introduced her legislation to reauthorize the Coral Reef program within NOAA.  In particular, her bill aims to strengthen the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) coral reef program, including establishing new federal grant opportunities for Guam’s coral reef projects, research, invasive/nuisance species control, and community monitoring programs.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Approves FY 2019 Transportation Appropriations Bill – On June 7, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up and reported their version of the FY 2019 Transportation, HUD Appropriations Bill with funding to advance transportation infrastructure development and other key programs.  The bill prioritizes funding for critical transportation projects, programs to encourage economic growth and efficiency, and core housing programs for the nation’s most vulnerable individuals.  The bill includes $26.6 billion in discretionary appropriations for the U.S. Department of Transportation for FY2019.  This is $698 million below the FY2018 enacted level.  Within this amount, priority is placed on programs to improve the safety, reliability, and efficiency of the transportation system:  $1 billion for Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants, previously known as TIGER grants; $46 billion from the Highway Trust Fund for the Federal-aid Highways Program, consistent with the FAST Act.  In keeping with the two-year budget agreement’s emphasis on infrastructure investments, the bill provides $3.3 billion in additional funding for highway programs, including $90 million to eliminate hazards at railway-highway grade crossings and $800 million for bridge repairs.  The bill maintains flexibility for State Departments of Transportation to repurpose some stagnant project funding for current infrastructure projects; $17.7 billion in total budgetary resources for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which fully funds all air traffic control personnel, including more than 14,000 air traffic controllers, and more than 25,000 engineers, maintenance technicians, safety inspectors, and operational support personnel. 

The bill provides $1 billion for FAA Next Generation Air Transportation Systems (NextGen) programs and provides not less than $168 million for the Contract Towers program.  The bill also provides $750 million in additional funding for airport improvements; $2.8 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).  This includes $1.9 billion to Amtrak for the Northeast Corridor and National Network, continuing service for all current routes.  The bill provides $262 million for FRA safety and operations, as well as research and development activities.  Additionally, the bill provides $255 million for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement grants program, $300 million for Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grants, and $10 million for Restoration and Enhancement grants. 

For the Maritime Administration, the bill provides $818 million to increase the productivity, efficiency, and safety of the nation’s ports and intermodal water and land transportation.  The Maritime Security Program is funded at $300 million.  The bill includes $40 million for State Maritime Academies (SMAs) and an additional $300 million for a new National Security Multi-Mission Vessel.  This training ship is essential for the SMAs to provide the nation with a strong merchant marine workforce.

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Congress Returns From Memorial Day Recess; Set to Start on FY 2019 Appropriations Bill – As Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess it is set to take up several appropriations measures for FY 2019.  In the House, a so-called “minibus” is scheduled for floor action.  The Energy and Water, Military Construction-VA, and Legislative Branch Appropriations Bills will be packaged together and debated next week.  The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up its version of a Transportation-HUD Appropriations Bill.  The FY 2018 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill, the bill that funds NSF, NOAA, and NASA, is scheduled for subcommittee mark up during the week of June 11.  Below is a chart comparing the FY 2019 allocations made to each House and Senate appropriations subcommittee based on the budget agreement reached in February to adjust the statutory spending caps for FY 2018 and FY 2019.  These allocations will ultimately have to be reconciled via the conference process that usually occurs later on in the FY 2019 appropriations process.

NOAA Releases Saltonstall-Kennedy Funding Opportunity -- The Saltonstall-Kennedy Act established a fund (known as the S-K fund) used by the Secretary of Commerce to provide grants or cooperative agreements for fisheries research and development projects addressing aspects of U.S. fisheries, including, but not limited to, harvesting, processing, marketing, and associated business infrastructures. The goal of the S-K program is to fund projects that address the needs of fishing communities, optimize economic benefits by building and maintaining sustainable fisheries, and increase other opportunities to keep working waterfronts viable. The FY19 solicitation seeks applications that address the following priorities: promotion, development, and marketing; marine aquaculture; and support of science that maximizes fishing opportunities, revenue and jobs in U.S. fisheries while ensuring the long-term sustainability of marine resources.  Grants and cooperative agreements are made on a competitive basis (subject to availability of funding) to assist in carrying out projects related to U.S. commercial and recreational fisheries.  Additional information on this funding opportunity can be found here.

DOD Releases Funding Opportunity – Bilateral Academic Research Initiative (BARI) Pilot Program -- The BARI program supports basic research in science and engineering stemming from interactive collaborative efforts between U.S. institutions of higher education and U.K. institutions of higher education that is of potential interests to U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and U.K Ministry of Defense (MOD). The program is focused on international collaborative research efforts where teams from the United States and the United Kingdom combine unique skillsets and approaches to provide rapid advances in scientific areas of mutual interests to the U.S. DoD and UK MOD. The area of interest is artificial intelligence (AI) and collaborative decision making. The research goal is to progress beyond collaborative human-machine sense making to develop approaches that might also enable collaborative decision making. The end goal is for humans and technology to be effective parts of the same team, with a machine behaving as an equal team member that can reason as well as its human team mates.  Award sizes are expected to range from $1 million to $3 million.  More information on the BARI funding opportunity can be found here.

USAID Requests Input for Forthcoming Funding Opportunity Related to Food Security Research -- USAID seeks to implement a Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Research, Capacity and Policy Influence, aiming to advance food security policy through high quality, relevant research from credible research institutions. The Innovation Lab is supposed to deliver on this vision by: strengthening the capacities of select country and regional research institutions to undertake research that is relevant and sound, to communicate findings in ways that are more likely to influence policy-makers, and to better manage their organizations so they can be sustainable over time; and implementing a global research agenda. USAID is seeking comments on this initiative to guide the development of final Notice of Funding Opportunity expected to be released in September 2018 with an anticipated award date of March 2019, subject to availability of appropriations.  More information is available here.

NOAA Releases Deep Sea Exploration Initiative Related to National Marine Sanctuaries – NOAA’s FY18 Deep-Sea Exploration, Characterization, and Education in National Marine Sanctuaries funding opportunity is being offered to explore and document the deep-sea oceanography, marine habitats, cultural sites, and living and non-living resources in and around national marine sanctuaries to better understand their biology, ecology, geology, and cultural resources. The research should use deep-sea technology and telepresence communication systems to create high-end 4K imagery, collect critical data and information, and create derived products with that data, including maps of deep-water regions in the National Marine Sanctuary System. In addition, the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) strives to engage broad audiences to enhance America’s environmental literacy through the excitement of ocean discovery. This deep-sea research should utilize telepresence technology from the research platform to beam high resolution images and video to distributed land-based locations to engaged distributed science parties, as well as to locations accessible to the general public and formal and informal educators and their associated facilities. ONMS regularly forms such collaborations to reach out to the public in innovative ways to improve the literacy of learners with respect to ocean issues.  More information on this funding opportunity can be found here.

Picture1.png

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2019 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill --  On May 24, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up and reported out the FY2019 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act that funds U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) programs and critical infrastructure projects administered by the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation.  The $43.766 billion measure, which funds programs related to energy security and economic competitiveness, is $566 million above the FY2018 enacted level and $7.24 billion above the President’s budget request.  The bill was approved 30-1.

The Committee approved the highest-ever level of funding for the DOE Office of Science in a regular appropriations bill and recommended historic, record-level funding for the program to spur greater innovation in energy research, high-performance computing, and next-generation technologies.  The bill also includes the funding necessary to improve and maintain flood control projects and ensure the viability of national and regional ports and waterways.

“I would tell President Trump and the Office of Management and Budget that science, research and innovation is what made America first, and I recommend that he add science, research and innovation to his ‘America First’ agenda,” said U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee.  “This funding bill is a good first step to doing that – it prioritizes federal spending to keep America first in energy research and increases funding to develop the next generation of supercomputers.”

Science Research – $6.65 billion for the DOE Office of Science, $390 million above the FY2018 enacted level and $1.26 billion above the budget request, to support basic science research and enabling research capabilities, development of high-performance computing systems, and research into the next generation of clean energy sources—all important areas for improving economic competitiveness, national security, and quality of life.

Energy Programs – $13.3 billion, $379 million above the FY2018 enacted level and $9.5 billion above the budget request.  Within this total, the bill prioritizes and increases funding for energy programs that encourage U.S. economic competitiveness and that will advance an “all-of-the-above” solution to U.S. energy independence. The ARPA-E program is funded at $375 million, once again rejecting the Administration’s proposal to terminate ARPA-E.

Christopher Fall Nominated to be Director of the Office of Science at the Department of Energy -- Dr. Chris Fall is the Principal Deputy Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy. Dr. Fall served most recently for over six years with the Office of Naval Research, including as Innovation Fellow, as Director of the International Liaison Office, as Deputy Director of Research for STEM and Workforce, and finally as acting Chief Scientist. During this time, he also served for three years at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as Assistant Director for Defense Programs and then as acting Lead for the National Security and International Affairs Division. Dr. Fall earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Virginia, as well as a master of business administration from the Kellogg School of Management. He was previously a postdoctoral fellow or faculty member at the University of California at Davis, New York University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

DHS Announces Funding Opportunity for FY 2018 Preparedness Grants – The Department of Homeland Security this week announced the release of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Notices of Funding Opportunity for eight DHS preparedness grant programs totaling more than $1.6 billion. The grant programs provide funding to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as transportation authorities, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector, to improve the nation’s readiness in preventing, protecting against, responding to, recovering from and mitigating terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies. The grants reflect the Department’s focus on funding for programs that address our nation’s immediate security needs and ensure public safety in our communities.  The FY 2018 grant guidance will continue to focus on the nation’s highest risk areas, including urban areas that face the most significant threats.  For FY 2018, the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) will enhance regional preparedness and capabilities by funding 32 high-threat, high-density urban areas. 

Consistent with previous grant guidance, dedicated funding is provided for law enforcement and terrorism prevention throughout the country to prepare for, prevent and respond to pre-operational activity and other crimes that are precursors or indicators of terrorist activity.

Grant recipients are encouraged to use grant funding to maintain and sustain current critical core capabilities through investments in training and exercises, updates to current planning and procedures, and lifecycle replacement of equipment. New capabilities that are built using homeland security grant funding must be deployable if needed to support regional and national efforts. All capabilities being built or sustained must have a clear linkage to the core capabilities articulated in the National Preparedness Goal.

All preparedness Notices of Funding Opportunities can be found at www.grants.gov. Final submissions must be made through the Non-Disaster (ND) Grants system located at https://portal.fema.gov.

DARPA Announces Proposers’ Day Conference for new SCORE Program – on June 8 DARAPA will hold a meeting for potential proposers to highlight the objectives of an anticipated Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the Systematizing Confidence in Open Research and Evidence (SCORE) program. The Proposers Day will be held on June 8, 2018 from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM at the Executive Conference Center at Strategic Analysis, Inc. (4075 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22203). The event will be available via a live webcast for those who would like to participate remotely. Advance registration is required both for attending the Proposers Day in person and for viewing the webcast. DARPA is planning on soliciting innovative research proposals for the development and deployment of automated tools to assign Confidence Scores to different Social and Behavioral Science (SBS) research results and claims. Confidence Scores are quantitative measures that should enable someone to understand the degree to which a particular claim or result is likely to be reproducible and/or replicable. The SCORE program will develop automated tools that assign explainable Confidence Scores to SBS results and claims with a reliability that is equal to, or better than, the best current human expert methods. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems. Register for this DARPA conference here.  More details about this conference and the forthcoming SCORE program can be found here.

A Periodic Federal Science Update

House Appropriations Committee Marks Up FY 2019 Appropriations Bill for NSF, NOAA, and NASA – On May 17, the full House Appropriations Committee marked up and reported out the FY 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill which funds the Departments of Commerce and Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the decennial census, and other related programs. The legislation contains $62.5 billion in total discretionary funding, an increase of $2.9 billion above the fiscal year 2018 level. 

The bill provides increases for federal law enforcement to crack down on illegal immigration, violent crime, gangs and opioid trafficking.  The bill targets funding increases for national security – including countering cybercrime, terrorism and espionage. Funds are included to continue investments in space exploration, advance groundbreaking science, enhance school safety, and provide adequate resources for the upcoming decennial census.  

National Science Foundation (NSF) -- The legislation funds NSF at $8.2 billion – $408 million above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level and $703 million above the Administration’s $7.4 billion request. Research and related activities are funded at $6.7 billion, $317 million above the current level and $500 million over the Administration’s request for this account. These funds will foster innovation and U.S. economic competitiveness, including funding for research on advanced manufacturing, physics, mathematics, ocean exploration, high performance computing, astronomy, major research instrumentation, cybersecurity, neuroscience, and STEM education. The Committee expressed its support for NSF’s Antarctic Modernization for Science program.  The Committee also reiterated its support for research infrastructure investments and called on NSF to provide no less than FY 2018 levels to support its existing research laboratories, observational networks, and other assets including astronomy, the current academic fleet, NSF’s FFRDCs, and High-Performance Computing Centers.  The Committee also apparently included some report language endorsing the continuation of marine research and support for existing related research facilities.

In the NSF Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account, the bill provides a total of $268 million to be used to fund the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, and three Regional Class Research Vessels.  Education and Human Resources is funded at $902 million which is $28.6 million more than the request.  Report language emphasizes the Advanced Technical Education program, early childhood STEM education, broadening participation programs, Hispanic serving institutions, and the Innovation Corps program.  

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – The legislation contains $5.2 billion for NOAA, which is $751 million below the fiscal year 2018 level but $606 million above the Administration’s $4.6 billion request. Funding is targeted to the National Weather Service, the reduction of harmful algal blooms, fisheries management, weather research, and ocean exploration while reducing funds for other programs including eliminating the climate Competitive Research, Sustained Observations and Regional Information program as proposed by the Administration.  In FY 2018 this program was funded at a level of $60 million.  

In the National Ocean Service, $34 million was added to the request for NOAA’s Navigation, Observations, and Positioning program.  The Administration had requested a $5 million increase.  This program includes NOAA’s coastal lidar mapping program, the National Geodetic Survey, and the Integrated Ocean Observing System (at $37.5 million, $10.6 million more than the request).  In other NOS activities the Committee emphasized priority support for Harmful Algal Bloom research.  The National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) program, which had been proposed for termination was instead funded at $27 million; and Sanctuaries and Marine Protected Areas program is funded at $57.5 million, $7.8 million over the request.  The Committee did not provide any funding for the Title IX fund for Coastal Resilience Grants.  In FY 2018 the Coastal Resilience Grants program received $30 million.

In NOAA Fisheries, the Committee maintained funding for the marine mammal stranding program (Prescott grants), added $18.5 million to the request for Enforcement which is where significant Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) activities are carried out by NOAA, and funded aquaculture at $15 million which is $5.7 million more than the request and level with last year.  The Committee also provide NOAA Fisheries with $10 million for additional Red Snapper management activities.

For NOAA Research (OAR), the Committee is providing $462 million for OAR operations and research.  This includes a nearly 40% reduction in climate research. Rejecting the Administration’s proposal to terminate the Sea Grant program, the Committee instead provided $80 million for Sea Grant (including $11.5 million for Sea Grant aquaculture).  The Committee also provided $48 million for ocean exploration or nearly $30 million more than the request.  Overall support for oceans, coastal and Great Lakes research is funded at $220 million which is $126.9 million more than the Administration requested and $14 million more than the comparable level for FY 2018.

For the National Weather Service, the Committee provides just over $1 billion for NWS operations which is $80 million more than the Administration’s request.  The Committee urged NWS to move expeditiously in its hiring of additional staff in FY 2019; restores funding for the National Mesonet Program at $14.5 million; and does not adopt the proposed decreases for numerical weather prediction modeling, the national water model, or Operations and Workforce Analysis testing and evaluation.

Finally, the Committee rejected the Administration’s proposal to terminate all NOAA education programs and instead provided $28.5 million for BWET regional programs, the Education Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions, and NOAA’s Education Program Base.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – NASA is funded at $21.5 billion, $810 million above the 2018 enacted level. This funding includes: $5.1 billion for Deep Space Exploration Systems – $294 million above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level; funding to continue the development of the Orion crew vehicle, Space Launch System, and related ground systems; and $6.7 billion for NASA Science programs – $459 million above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level. The bill funds the requested amounts for robotic and human exploration of the moon, including $504.2 million for the lunar orbital platform; $116.5 million for advanced lunar and surface capabilities; $218 million for planetary science, including rovers and science instruments; and $150 million for commercial low-earth orbit development. Funding for NASA Science Programs recommended by the Committee includes:

  • Earth Science would receive $1.9 billion or $21 million less than FY2018, but $116 million more than requested.  The report does not specifically address the Administration’s proposal to terminate four Earth science missions (PACE, OCO-3, CLARREO-Pathfinder, and the Earth facing instruments on DSCOVR). 
  • Planetary Science is funded at $2.8 billion, $539 million more than FY2018 and $523.5 million more than requested.  It more than doubles the amount for Europa Clipper compared to the request ($545 million instead of $265 million) and adds $195 million for a Europa lander.  It also specifies $210 million for developing technology for planetary missions, including $35 million for icy satellites surface technology, $10 million for the Mars helicopter for the Mars 2020 mission (which itself is funded at $650 million), and $81 million (as requested) for production of plutonium-238 for use in radioisotope power sources for planetary missions.
  • Astrophysics is slated to receive $1 billion.  Within that, the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) would be funded at $150 million, the same as FY2018.  The Administration wants to terminate the project. The report specifies that NASA continue development of the coronagraph as a technology demonstration and allocates $20 million for the Starshade technology demonstration.  Separately it includes $10 million to search for “technosignatures,” such as radio transmissions, in partnership with the private sector and philanthropic organizations.
  • The James Webb Space Telescope would remain in a separate line item, not combined with the rest of astrophysics as requested, in order to “ensure visibility” as the project addresses a probable breach of its $8 billion cost cap.  It calls the recently announced schedule slips “an enormous disappointment.” JWST would get $304.6 million, the same as the request.
  • Heliophysics would receive $688.5 million, which is $2 million less than the request and the same as FY2018.

In a letter dated May 16, OMB called out the Committee’s funding of NSF and NOAA education programs as “not in line with the overall restraint in non-Defense spending reflected in the FY 2019 Budget request…”

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce-Justice-Science is scheduled to mark up its version of this bill during the week of June 11.

House Appropriations Committee Marks Up FY19 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill; Administration Opposes Committee’s Recommendations for Science and ARPA-E -- On May 16, the House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2019 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The legislation provides annual funding for national defense nuclear weapons activities, the Army Corps of Engineers, various programs under the Department of Energy (DOE), and other related agencies.  The bill totals $44.7 billion – $1.5 billion above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level and $8.17 billion above the President’s budget request. Funding is targeted toward national security efforts – including nuclear weapons activities – and energy and water infrastructure investments.  

Funding for energy programs within DOE is $13.4 billion – an increase of $504 million above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level. This funding is targeted to encourage U.S. economic competitiveness and help advance the nation’s goal of an “all-of-the-above” solution to energy independence. Research and development to advance coal, natural gas, oil, and other fossil energy technologies, which will help the country make greater use of our rich natural energy resources and help keep down energy costs, are funded at $785 million – $58 million above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level. In addition, to promote innovation and growth in nuclear energy, research, development, and demonstration activities are funded at $1.2 billion – $128 million above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level. Energy efficiency and renewable energy programs are cut by $243 million compared to fiscal year 2018.  The bill includes $6.6 billion for science research – an increase of $340 million above the 2018 enacted level. This funding supports basic energy research, the development of high-performance computing systems, and research into the next generation of energy sources. These investments lay the groundwork for a more secure energy future, helping to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and ensuring continued economic growth.  The bill also rejects the Administration’s proposal to terminate the ARPA-E program.  Instead, the Committee recommends $325 million for ARPA-E in FY 2019.

The Administration released a letter commenting on the House Energy and Water Bill.  In that letter, the Administration commented on both the increased funding for the Office of Science and funding for ARPA-E.  On the Office of Science, the Administration said, “The Administration appreciates the Subcommittee’s support for prioritizing basic research but does not support funding in excess of the requested level.”  With respect to ARPA-E, the Administration says, “…The Administration is disappointed that the bill does not eliminate ARPA-E. The Committee is encouraged to explore options to incorporate certain ARPA-E attributes, such as cross-cutting research coordination and enhanced flexibility, into the Department of Energy's primary research efforts within the Office of Science and Applied Energy Research Programs rather than maintain a separate program through ARPA-E. 
 

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Summary of Draft FY 2019 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Bill Released — The House Appropriations Committee today released the fiscal year 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill which is to be marked up tomorrow (Wednesday May 9 at 5PM). The bill funds the Departments of Commerce and Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the decennial census, and other related programs. The legislation contains $62.5 billion in total discretionary funding, an increase of $2.9 billion above the fiscal year 2018 level. The bill provides increases for federal law enforcement to crack down on illegal immigration, violent crime, gangs and opioid trafficking. The bill targets funding increases for national security – including countering cybercrime, terrorism and espionage. Funds are included to continue investments in space exploration, advance groundbreaking science, enhance school safety, and provide adequate resources for the upcoming decennial census.  Most of the detail on proposed funding for specific programs or activities in agencies (i.e. Sea Grant) is not expected to be available until the bill moves to the full Committee for mark up.  A date for full Committee mark up of the FY 2019 CJS Appropriations bill has not yet been announced.  Below is some summary information released by the Committee this evening.

National Science Foundation (NSF) -- The legislation funds NSF at $8.2 billion – $408 million above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level and $700 million more than requested by the Administration. Research and related activities are funded at $6.7 billion, $317 million above the current level and $550 million more than requested. These funds will foster innovation and U.S. economic competitiveness, including funding for research on advanced manufacturing, physics, mathematics, cybersecurity, neuroscience, and STEM education. The bill also invests in important scientific infrastructure such as modernization of Antarctica facilities along with telescopes and research vessels.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – The legislation contains $5.2 billion for NOAA, which is $751 million below the fiscal year 2018 level but $640 million more than requested by the Administration. Funding is targeted to the National Weather Service, the reduction of harmful algal blooms, fisheries management, weather research, and ocean exploration while reducing funds for lower-priority programs and one-time investments made in fiscal year 2018.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – NASA is funded at $21.5 billion, $810 million above the 2018 enacted level. This funding includes: $5.1 billion for Deep Space Exploration Systems – $294 million above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level. This includes funding to continue the development of the Orion crew vehicle, Space Launch System, and related ground systems; The bill includes $6.7 billion for NASA Science programs – $459 million above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level. This targets funding to planetary and other sciences to ensure the continuation of scientific missions. The bill funds the requested amounts for robotic and human exploration of the moon, including $504.2 million for the lunar orbital platform; $116.5 million for advanced lunar and surface capabilities; $218 million for planetary science, including rovers and science instruments; and $150 million for commercial low-earth orbit development.
 

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Omnibus Appropriations Act Signed, Next Step Agency Spending Plans and FY 2019 Hearings– Now that the President has signed the FY 2018 omnibus appropriations act, agencies are moving to develop their FY18 spending plans.  These are plans the agencies prepare detailing their planning expenditure of the resources provided via the FY18 omnibus appropriations act.  Agencies’ plans will reflect their initial budget plans, guidance provided by the Congress via bill and/or report language, and their subsequent interpretation of the guidance provided by the Congress.  Generally, these spending plans are provided to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees within 45 days after the omnibus is signed into law.  The Committees provide comments to the agencies regarding their spending plans.  While the Committees usually don’t formally approve these plans, the agencies pay particular attention to the reaction and comments they receive from the Committees as they finalize their spending plans for the balance of the fiscal year.  Usually program directors await the finalization of the spend plan process before they are able to communicate to their stakeholders any details about resource availability for FY 2018.  As a result, it could take until May or June for agency program directors to be able to discuss the level of detail needed by prospective principal investigators.

NSF Seeking Nominations to Advisory Committees -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) requests recommendations for membership on its scientific and technical Federal advisory committees. Recommendations should consist of the name of the submitting individual, the organization or the affiliation providing the member nomination, the name of the recommended individual, the recommended individual's curriculum vita, and an expression of the individual's interest in serving. Self-recommendations are accepted. Each Directorate and Office has an external advisory committee that typically meets twice a year to review and provide advice on program management; discuss current issues; and review and provide advice on the impact of policies, programs, and activities in the disciplines and fields encompassed by the Directorate or Office. In addition to Directorate and Office advisory committees, NSF has several committees that provide advice and recommendations on specific topics including: Astronomy and astrophysics; environmental research and education; equal opportunities in science and engineering; cyberinfrastructure; international science and engineering; and business and operations. A primary consideration when formulating committee membership is recognized knowledge, expertise, or demonstrated ability. Other factors that may be considered are balance among diverse institutions, regions, and groups underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Committee members serve for varying term lengths, depending on the nature of the individual committee. More information, including a list of NSF’s advisory committees, can be found here.

NSF Funding Opportunity Related to Ocean Observatories Initiative Facility Board (OOFIB) -- The OOI is a large-scale ocean observing system constructed and deployed under NSF sponsorship and oversight as a Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) Project.  The system includes an integrated network of cabled and uncabled arrays of instrumentation, distributed in various coastal and global ocean locations, to facilitate Ocean Science research. The OOI is managed and operated under a Cooperative Agreement that is currently being re-competed.  An Ocean Observatories Initiative Facility Board (OOIFB) has been established by the NSF to provide independent, community-based input and guidance to the NSF and the OOI operator relating to OOI operations and maintenance.  The solicitation invites proposals for an Administrative Support Office to assist the OOIFB in carrying out its responsibilities to the OOI Program.  More information on this opportunity can be found here.

DOD Releases MURI Program Announcement -- The MURI program supports basic research in science and engineering at U.S. institutions of higher education that is of potential interest to DoD. The program is focused on multidisciplinary research efforts where more than one traditional discipline interacts to provide rapid advances in scientific areas of interest to the DoD. DoD’s basic research program invests broadly in many fields to ensure that it has early cognizance of new scientific knowledge. The FY 2019 MURI competition is for the topics listed in Section II. I, entitled, “SPECIFIC MURI TOPICS,” The detailed descriptions are intended to provide the applicant a frame of reference and are not meant to be restrictive to the possible approaches to achieving the goals of the topic and the program. Innovative ideas addressing these research topics are highly encouraged. Proposals from a team of university investigators are warranted when the necessary expertise in addressing the multiple facets of the topics may reside in different universities, or in different departments in the same university. By supporting multidisciplinary teams, the program is complementary to other DoD basic research programs that support university research through single-investigator awards. 

DOD Releases FY 2019 Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) -- This announcement seeks proposals from universities to purchase equipment and instrumentation in support of research in areas of interest to the DoD. DoD interests include the areas of research supported by the Army Research Office (ARO), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR. A central purpose of the DURIP is to provide equipment and instrumentation to enhance research-related education in areas of interest and priority to the DoD. DoD areas of research interest are published at the following internet locations: Army Research OfficeOffice of Naval Research, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

USGS Announces Funding Opportunity for Earthquake Hazards Research -- The USGS Earthquake Hazards Program (EHP) issues this annual Announcement for assistance to support research in earthquake hazards, the physics of earthquakes, earthquake occurrence, and earthquake safety policy.  This activity is authorized by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977.  A copy of the solicitation can be found here.

Funding Opportunity at National Geospatial Intelligence Agency -- The NGA mission is to provide timely, relevant, and accurate geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) in support of national security objectives. GEOINT is the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess, and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth. GEOINT consists of imagery, imagery intelligence, and geospatial information. NGA offers a variety of critical GEOINT products in support of U.S. national security objectives and Federal disaster relief, including aeronautical, geodesy, hydrographic, imagery, geospatial and topographical information. The NGA Academic Research Program (NARP) is focused on innovative, far-reaching basic and applied research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics having the potential to advance the GEOINT mission. The objective of the NARP is to support innovative, high-payoff research that provides the basis for revolutionary progress in areas of science and technology affecting the needs and mission of NGA. This research also supports the National System for Geospatial Intelligence (NSG), which is the combination of technology, systems and organizations that gather, produce, distribute and consume geospatial data and information. This research is aimed at advancing GEOINT capabilities by improving analytical methods, enhancing and expanding systems capabilities, and leveraging resources for common NSG goals. The NARP also seeks to improve education in scientific, mathematics, and engineering skills necessary to advance GEOINT capabilities. It is NGA’s intent to solicit fundamental research under this BAA.  More information on this funding opportunity can be found here.

Army Rapid Capability Office Funding Opportunity Announced -- This Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), W56JSR-18-S-0001, is sponsored by the Army Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO). The RCO serves to expedite critical capabilities to the field to meet Combatant Commanders’ needs. The Office enables the Army to experiment, evolve, and deliver technologies in real time to address both urgent and emerging threats while supporting acquisition reform efforts. The RCO executes rapid prototyping and initial equipping of capabilities, particularly in the areas of cyber, electronic warfare, survivability and positioning, navigation and timing (PNT), as well as other priority projects that will enable Soldiers to operate and win in contested environments decisively. And estimated $50 million is available for this program.

NSF Announces Funding Opportunities for Management and Operation of the Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR) Facilities -- NSF is soliciting proposals to manage and operate both of the NSF-owned faces of the Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR) observatories that are located at Poker Flat, AK, and at Resolute Bay, Canada. These two observatories are managed and operated as a single facility which serves national goals in Geospace science research and education. These facilities are designated as Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar (PFISR) and Resolute Bay Incoherent Scatter Radar - North Face (RISR-N), respectively. Awardees will work closely with NSF and the Geospace scientific community to ensure that each AMISR observatory supports, sustains, and advances Geospace science. In cooperation with NSF and within available resources, the Awardees will plan and execute a viable, coherent, and inclusive observing program to support Geospace research and education. AMISR activities will be carried out with guidance and oversight from NSF and through a peer review process. A copy of the solicitation can be found here.

Meeting of the DOE/Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee – The Department of Energy’s Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee (BERAC) will meet in open session on April 25 and April 26, 2018.  The meeting will take place at the Hilton Washington DC North/Gaithersburg, 620 Perry Parkway, Gaithersburg, Maryland.  The tentative agenda includes the following topics:  News from the Office of Science; News from the Office of Biological and Environmental Research; Updates from the Biological Systems Science and Climate and Environmental Sciences Divisions; and Updates on data science programs.  More information on this meeting can be found here

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) to Hold Briefing on Federal Support for Climate and Environmental R&D – On Friday, March 16 at 2PM Eastern the EESI will offer a briefing on the new report released by Novim which discusses the impact of the Administration’s budget for climate and environmental R&D.  Speakers at this forum include:  Michael Ditmore, Executive Director of Novim, Ari Patrinos, Chief Scientist for Novim; and Kei Koizumi, Visiting Scholar from the AAAS.  The briefing will take place in room 2360 Rayburn House Office Building.  A live webcast of the briefing will be streamed at 2PM EST here.  

Important Science Hearings This Week Before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee – On Wednesday, March 14, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on the current state of the Department of Energy’s national laboratories.  Witnesses for the national lab hearing include:  Dr. Mark Peters, Director, Idaho National Laboratory;  Dr. Susan Seestrom, Advanced Science & Technology Associate Labs Director and Chief Research Officer, Sandia National Laboratory;  Dr. Mary E. Maxon, Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory;  Dr. Chi-Chang Kao, Director, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, National Accelerator Laboratory; and Dr. Paul Kearns, director, Argonne National Laboratory.  On Thursday, March 15, the House Science Committee will hold a hearing on the NSF’s FY 2019 Budget Request. Testifying for NSF will be NSF Director, Dr. France Cordova, and NSB Chair, Dr. Maria Zuber.

Air Force Announces FY 2019 Funding Opportunity for Young Investigators -- The FY 2019 Air Force Young Investigator Research Program (YIP) provides support for scientists and engineers who have recently received their Ph.D. or equivalent degree.. The program objective is to foster creative basic research in science and engineering; enhance early career development of outstanding young investigators; and increase opportunities for the young investigator to recognize the Air Force mission and related challenges in science and engineering. Individual awards are made to U.S. institutions of higher education, industrial laboratories, or non-profit research organizations where the principal investigator is employed on a full-time basis and holds a regular position. YIP primary investigators must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident. Most YIP awards are funded at $150,000 per year for three years, for a total of $450,000.  More information on the YIP program can be found here.

NSF Announces Support for the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier: Advancing Cognitive and Physical Capabilities (FW-HTF) -- The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (FW-HTF) is one of 10 new and far-sighted Big Ideas for Future Investments announced by NSF in 2016. NSF aims to respond to the challenges and opportunities of the changing landscape of jobs and work by supporting convergent research to: understand and develop the human-technology partnership; design new technologies to augment human performance; illuminate the emerging socio-technological landscape and understand the risks and benefits of new technologies; and foster lifelong and pervasive learning with technology. In order to be nimble and responsive to new opportunities and challenges as they are recognized, focus areas for the FW-HTF solicitation, the centerpiece of the FW-HTF Big Idea, may change from year to year. This solicitation focuses on advancing cognitive and physical capabilities in the context of human-technology interactions. The solicitation, which anticipates providing $27 million to support two themes: Theme 1 will focus on Foundations for Augmenting Human Cognition and Theme 2 will focus on Embodied Intelligent Cognitive Assistants. In shaping projects responsive to these two themes, PIs consider the importance of understanding, anticipating, and shaping the larger implications at the individual, institutional, corporate, and national levels, including issues arising from the needs or consequences for training and education. In addition, projects should be framed in terms of their focus on the potential contribution toward (a) transforming the frontiers of science and technology for human performance augmentation and workplace skill acquisition; (b) improving both worker quality of life and employer financial metrics; (c) enhancing the economic and social well-being of the country; and (d) addressing societal needs through research on learning and instruction in the context of augmentation.  More information on this funding opportunity can be found here.

NSF Announces Planning Grants for Engineering Research Centers (ERC) -- In response to a study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine [NASEM study], the ERC program is piloting a planning grant opportunity in advance of the next ERC solicitation.  The ERC program is placing greater emphasis on research that leads to societal impact, including convergent approaches, engaging stakeholder communities, and strengthening team formation, in response to the NASEM study recommendations. The ERC program intends to support planning activities leading to convergent research team formation and capacity-building within the engineering community. To participate in the upcoming ERC competition, one is not required to submit a planning grant proposal nor to receive a planning grant.  More information on ERC planning grants can be found here.

Senator Wicker and Senator Schatz Introduce Legislation Related to Unmanned Maritime Technology – On March 7, Senators Wicker and Schatz introduced the Commercial Engagement Through Ocean Technology (CENOTE) Act.  An identical version of this bill was introduced in the House and is co-sponsored by Reps. Palazzo and Panetta.  The CENOTE bill directs NOAA to coordinate its development of unmanned maritime systems with universities, the private sector, and the Navy. NOAA would be required to use unmanned technologies to address mission requirements. The data collected from these missions will be made accessible to the public, benefiting commercial, academic, and national security interests. 

NIH Solicits Comments on Strategic Plan for Data Science – On March 5, the NIH released a Request for Information (RFI) for comments and suggestions from stakeholders throughout the scientific research community regarding the NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science.  The NIH seeks comments on any of the following topics:  the appropriateness of the goals of the plan and of the strategies and implementation tactics proposed to achieve them; opportunities for NIH to partner in achieving these goals; additional concepts that should be included in the plan; performance measures and milestones that could be used to gauge the success of elements of the plan and inform course corrections; and any other topic the respondent feels is relevant for NIH to consider in developing this strategic plan.

NSF Dear Colleague Letter on Space Weather Operations to Research Proposals – The NSF’s Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences and Astronomical Sciences Divisions are supporting the National Space Weather Action Plan (SWAP) by calling for proposals as part of a 1-year pilot program that will facilitate operations to research (O2R) activities needed to improve space weather prediction. O2R covers a broad range of activities designed to ultimately improve operational capabilities and fundamental research related to these needs. This can include testing, evaluating, and enhancing operational models.  The National Space Weather Action Plan (SWAP) released by the National Science and Technology Council describes actions that are needed to improve the understanding of, forecasting of, and preparedness for space weather events. An overarching theme of the SWAP is the need for collaboration amongst the research and operational communities. A key aspect of this collaboration is the research to operations (R2O) and operations to research (O2R) pipeline. Recognizing the challenges related to this pipeline, SWAP calls upon agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), to support efforts to facilitate the transition of space weather data and modeling capabilities to the Nation's space weather prediction providers and provide feedback from prediction providers to the research community on new research activities needed to improve the operational models. NSF, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are conducting independent pilot activities to improve forecasts of the background solar wind, solar wind structures, and coronal mass ejections using solar and solar wind data and models, if possible employing data assimilation techniques.  The DCL can be found here.

NSF Calls for Proposals on Replicability and Reproducibility -- The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) encourages submission of proposals that target reproducibility and replicability efforts in data-intensive domains and that specifically rely on analysis of neuroimaging or neuroelectric data, including electroencephalography, magnetoencephalography, electrocorticography and functional neuroimaging.  These areas are being emphasized for support across several content domains, given increased cognizance of potential concerns about analytic assumptions and derived workflows and increased community awareness of the need to define and publicize best practices for analyzing, documenting, managing and disseminating large datasets. More information on this initiative can be found here.

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Congressional Negotiators Working to Finalize FY 2018 Omnibus – House and Senate Appropriators are working to resolve their differences and complete a full year omnibus appropriations bill for all non-defense discretionary programs by March 23.  This will include funding for NSF, NOAA, NIH, USGS, NASA, EPA and many other agencies including Transportation, Homeland Security, and Interior.  Earlier this month Congress passed and the President signed into law legislation that raised the statutory spending caps for both defense and non-defense programs.  The statutory spending limits for defense and non-defense programs were increased by 15% and 12% respectively for FY 2018 and by a similar amount for FY 2019 by new two year budget agreement.  This replaced the Administration’s original proposal for FY 2018 which sought to reduce non-defense programs by 10% and increase defense programs by 10%.  With the spending cap on non-defense raised, the Administration offered suggestions as to where to add back spending for FY 2018 should be directed including: $819M to get NSF back to the FY 2017 level; $300M for NASA programs; and $239M for NOAA’s polar satellite program.

NSF Releases Details of its FY 2019 Budget Request – The National Science Foundation (NSF) released more detailed information regarding President Donald J. Trump's Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 NSF budget request to Congress.  The FY2019 budget request would represent a $7.47 billion investment in strengthening the nation's economy, security and global leadership through research in cutting-edge science and engineering. At this proposed level of funding, steady with FY2017 congressional appropriations, NSF would continue its work supporting research that advances national priorities such as growth in manufacturing, defense and cybersecurity.

While continuing to support the programs and offices that help maintain the nation's preeminence in innovation, NSF would accelerate the progress of its "10 Big Ideas for Future Investments" in FY2019, dedicating funding and resources to high-priority areas that integrate multiple fields of science and engineering and create opportunities to partner with industry, private foundations, other federal agencies and the education sector.

Through its Big Ideas Stewardship Funding Model, NSF would commit $30 million to each of six research-focused Big Ideas, for a total of $180 million. Those Big Ideas are: Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR); The Future of Work at the Human Technology Frontier (FW-HTF); Windows on the Universe (WoU): The Era of Multi-messenger Astrophysics; The Quantum Leap (QL): Leading the Next Quantum Revolution; Understanding the Rules of Life (URoL): Predicting Phenotype; and Navigating the New Arctic (NNA).

In response to questions about how the Big Ideas impact funding levels for existing NSF programs the agency said,

Increasingly, collaboration and convergence are necessary to achieving NSF's mission. The Big Ideas and the Convergence Accelerators NSF would prioritize in FY2019 are prime examples of this. NSF must leverage innovation across all supported fields of research to remain at the frontiers of science and engineering. NSF's investment in the Big Ideas and Convergence Accelerators is not a zero-sum game. The fundamental research underlying the Big Ideas has been supported through many NSF programs for a number of years, and in some cases, for decades. This budget request is a reflection of the changing model of science and engineering research today, which defies existing stovepipe thinking and encourages innovative approaches to research through leveraging resources across all fields of science.  NSF will continue planning budget levels for individual programs when the final FY2019 budget is passed.”

The budget request also calls for NSF to invest $60 million in two Convergence Accelerators -- new vehicles to leverage resources across the agency to support the most innovative science, pursuant to the HDR and FW-HTF Big Ideas. The remaining four Big Ideas, which focus on enhancing processes and practices to improve U.S. science and engineering, are emphasized in the budget request as well. This emphasis includes $20 million for NSF INCLUDES, which focuses on creating networks to broaden participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Other highlights under the budget request:

·       The Antarctic Infrastructure Modernization for Science (AIMS) construction project would receive $103.7 million. NSF manages all U.S. activities on the continent as a single, integrated program, making Antarctic research possible for scientists supported by NSF and other U.S. agencies.

·       Cybersecurity research would receive $160.6 million, supporting projects that protect and preserve cyber systems while ensuring preservation of individual privacy and usability.

·       NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™), which works to bridge the gap between discoveries and commercialization of technologies, would receive $30 million.

·       CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service, which supports cybersecurity education and research at higher education institutions, would receive $55 million and engage undergraduate students, with a focus on veterans.

NSF’s annual budget would represent approximately 27 percent of the total federal budget for basic research conducted at U.S. colleges and universities -- 60 percent when medical research supported by the National Institutes of Health is excluded.  In FY2019, NSF would expect to evaluate approximately 50,600 proposals through its competitive merit review process and make approximately 11,100 new competitive awards. NSF expects that over 93 percent of its FY2019 requested budget would be used to fund research and education grants and research infrastructure in the science and education communities.

Senate Confirms Neil Jacobs for Assistant Secretary of Commerce at NOAA – On February 15 the Senate, by a voice vote, confirmed Neil Jacobs to be the Assistant Secretary for Environmental Observation and Prediction and Assistant Administrator for NOAA Satellite & Information Services.  Dr. Jacobs was nominated in October 2017.  Before coming to NOAA, Dr. Jacobs was Chief Atmospheric Scientist for Panasonic Avionics Corporation.  During his confirmation process, Dr. Jacobs outlined the top three challenges facing NOAA which include: improve weather forecasting and modeling; increase observational and predictive resource capabilities; and manage satellite costs.  Read Dr. Jacobs’ answers to the Senate Commerce Committee’s questionnaire on his views and experience related to serving at NOAA here.  The nomination of Barry Myers to be the next NOAA Administrator remains pending in the Senate.

Department of Interior Seeks Comments on List of 35 Critical Minerals – The Department of the Interior announced it is seeking public comment by March 19, 2018, on a draft list of minerals considered critical to the economic and national security of the U.S. Executive Order 13817 directed DOI, in coordination with other agencies, to publish a list of critical minerals in the Federal Register for review and comment.  The USGS compiled the list and is seeking comments on its proposed list.  The draft list of minerals includes 35 mineral commodities, such as aluminum—used in almost all sectors of the economy; the platinum group metals—used for catalytic agents; rare-earth elements—used in batteries and electronics; tin—used as protective coatings and alloys for steel; and titanium—overwhelmingly used as a white pigment or as a metal alloy. Under the Executive Order, a “critical mineral” is a mineral identified to be a non-fuel mineral or mineral material essential to the economic and national security of the United States, the supply chain of which is vulnerable to disruption, and that serves an essential function in the manufacturing of a product, the absence of which would have significant consequences for the economy or national security.  The list of critical minerals and information on commenting on the proposal can be found here

DARPA to Hold Proposers Day for Forthcoming Solicitation -- The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Defense Sciences Office (DSO) is sponsoring a Proposers Day to provide information to potential proposers on the objectives of an anticipated Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the SIGMA+ initiative (sensors thrust). The Proposers Day will be held on March 7, 2018 from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the Executive Conference Center (4075 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22203). The event will be webcast for those who would like to participate remotely. Advance registration is required both for attending the Proposers Day in person and for viewing the webcast. The SIGMA program began in late 2014 as an effort to significantly advance scalable detection capabilities against radiological and nuclear (RN) weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threats from non-traditional, clandestine attack vectors. SIGMA developed and networked thousands of high-capability, low-cost detectors to demonstrate large-scale, continuously streaming physical sensor networks for the RN interdiction mission. SIGMA capabilities have been tested and operationalized with federal, state, and international partners.  The SIGMA+ initiative will build on SIGMA by developing a persistent, real-time, early detection system for the full spectrum of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives (CBRNE) WMD threats at the city-to-region scale. Specific targeted capabilities for each threat mode will focus the envisioned sensor, advanced intelligence analytics, and adversary modeling developments under one shared infrastructure and ubiquitous mobile sensing strategy.

NAML, COL, and Sea Grant Association Meetings in Washington Next Week – Numerous organizations concerned with funding for ocean and coastal science and education will be meeting in Washington next week in an effort to inform agency and Congressional decision makers on the importance of strengthening the investment in research and education.  The National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML) will be meeting on Sunday and Monday (March 4 and 5).  Scheduled to meet with NAML members will be senior officials from NSF and NOAA.  The agenda for the NAML meeting can be found here.  The Sea Grant Association is meeting on Wednesday and Thursday and will also hear from senior NOAA leadership as well as meeting Members and Congressional staff to discuss fully funding the Sea Grant program in FY 2019.  The Consortium for Ocean Leadership will hold its annual Public Policy Forum on Wednesday.  The theme for this day long policy forum is partnership building.  More information on the COL Public Policy forum can be found here.

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Overview of the Administration's FY2019 Budget Request for
Selected Federal Agencies' Science and Engineering

Prepared by Joel Widder and Meg Thompson
Federal Science Partners LLC
February 14, 2018

On February 12, the administration released its FY2019 Budget Request.  The President's budget features significant increases in DOD and other defense programs, a plan for a $1.5 trillion public-private multi-year infrastructure initiative with a proposed $200 billion in Federal funding, and, once again, dramatic reductions in specific non-defense programs (such as NIH, NSF, NOAA, and EPA).  

OMB Budget Adjustments Due to Bipartisan Budget Agreement for FY2018 and FY2019 -- As OMB finalized the FY 2019 Budget, the Congress reached a bipartisan agreement to significantly raise the defense and non-defense discretionary spending caps in FY2018 and FY2019, and the President has signed these new caps into law. In light of the BBA, the administration also transmitted an "Addendum to the President's FY2019 Budget to Account for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018."  

"As reflected in the FY2019 Budget, the Administration strongly supports the overall defense spending levels included in the bipartisan cap deal. However, given the current fiscal situation, the Administration is not proposing a Budget at the new non-defense caps. The Administration does not believe these non-defense spending levels comport with its vision for the proper role and size of the Federal Government. However, we believe it is prudent to lay out the Administration's roadmap for how to account for these higher non-defense spending levels in a responsible manner. This addendum includes additional funding for a limited set of Administration priorities…"

The administration requests total defense discretionary spending of $716 billion, the same as the newly raised defense cap.  The defense budget is expected to track with the National Defense Strategy which emphasizes strategic competition with China and Russia means which calls for investing in advanced capabilities, rather than solely increasing the size of the force. Similarly, the strategy's language on force employment suggests a recalibration in favor of preserving readiness at the expense of some presence activities that are not focused on improving the military's ability to deter or respond to conflict.

For non-defense spending, the administration requests $540 billion, the addendum adds $75 billion to the FY2019 Budget, but this is still $57 billion below the newly raised non-defense cap agreed to last week that allows non-defense spending of $605 billion. The request for non-defense programs brings total non-defense spending to about the FY2017 level. 

The President's budget also contains workforce reduction plans for many agencies.  These plans rely on hiring freezes, buyouts, and provisions making it easier for agencies to release or terminate the employment of Federal employees.

Similar to the FY2018 request a large number of non-defense discretionary programs are proposed for elimination including:  Sea Grant and other ocean and coastal grant programs, and the NOAA Office of Education, a reduction of some $273 million; the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (a reduction of $305 million); the USAID Global Climate Change Initiative; and five Earth Science Missions at NASA including Radiation Budget Instrument (RBI), Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud; ocean Ecosystem (PACE), Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3), Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) Earth-viewing instruments, and Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder (a savings of $133 million).  

Agencies slated for closure in the proposed budget include the Corporation for National and Community Service, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The FY2019 Budget moves the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to within the National Institutes of Health, but reduces the funds currently supporting AHRQ.  With the new spending caps in place for FY2019 and this being an election year, Congress can be expected to oppose many of these reductions.

For the National Science Foundation (NSF), the administration's addendum would provide an additional $2.204 billion to NSF, bringing the FY2019 NSF request to a total of $7.472 billion, the same as the FY 2017 appropriated amount. The Administration's budget shows that without the addendum, it would have requested a reduction of 30% below the FY2017 level.  With the addendum, Research and Related Activities increases by 2%, while NSF Education and Human Resources would remain at the FY2017 level.  Funding for the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account would decline by 56% or $120 million.  

The increase for the Research & Related Activities account will allow NSF to invest in priority areas centered on accelerating focused, cross-disciplinary efforts around two of the NSF Big Ideas - The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier, and Harnessing the Data Revolution.  The requested increase would also support beginning construction on the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernization for Science project. The reduction for the Major Research Equipment & Facilities Construction account is largely due to the support for two new Regional Class Research Vessels. 

For the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Administration is requesting $4.6 billion NOAA which is $1.1 billion or 19% below the FY 2017 level.  NOAA is not included as one of the "add backs" in the addendum.  Notable terminations in the NOAA budget include: Sea Grant, Coastal Zone Management Grants and Regional Coastal Resilience Grants, the National Estuarine Research Reserve Systems, NOAA Education programs, arctic research, the Prescott grant program, the reef fish stock assessment program, the Big Earth Data project, and the Research Transition Acceleration Program.  Those programs proposed for substantial reductions include: elimination of the climate competitive research activity (this was a $60 million program in FY 2017); the ocean exploration program, reduction in the IOOS program of $11 million; reduction in the tsunami warning system ($11 million); reduction in numerical weather prediction models and the national water model; reduce the ocean acidification research activity by $2.4 million; regional climate centers would be reduced by $2.4 million; and reduce the marine debris program by nearly $500,000.

Areas or programs where NOAA is proposing modest increases despite an overall bottom line that declines by nearly 20% include: restore core capabilities at the National Weather Service; support increased costs for NOAA aircraft facility; improve disaster preparedness; strengthening NOAA's future satellite capabilities; maintenance of core geospatial and oceanographic data and products; and facilitate commercial space marketplace.

With respect to aquaculture, a priority area for the Department of Commerce and NOAA, support for NOAA's Office of Aquaculture is proposed to be $9.3 million, an amount equal to the FY 2017 level.  The aquaculture research component within Sea Grant (approximately $9 million in FY 2017) is eliminated as part of the Administration's proposal to terminate the Sea Grant program.  Also eliminated via the Sea Grant proposal would be the Knauss Fellowship program and other Sea Grant education activities.

NOAA Research (Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research - OAR) would decline in this budget proposal to a level of $321.7 million which is about 37% below the comparable FY 2017 level.  In addition to the proposed termination of Sea Grant and other ocean and coastal grant programs, other notable reductions include:

"    $60 million reduction in various climate research activities;
"    $14 million reduction for weather related cooperative institutes and laboratories;
"    $9 million to eliminate the joint technology transfer initiative;
"    $16 million reduction to ocean exploration;
"    $2.4 million reduction to ocean acidification - dropping from $10.4 million in FY 2017 to $8 million in FY 2019.

The National Ocean Service (NOS), in the FY 2019 budget request would decline by nearly 30% from the FY 2017 level. In the Navigation, Observations, and Positioning program support would decline by $7 million via the elimination of a single-year grant to the joint ocean and coastal mapping center in Mississippi and the elimination of geospatial modeling grants. The IOOS Regional Observations program would decline by about 30% or $11 million to a level of $19.4 million.  The $10 million competitive research program in Coastal Science and Assessment would be eliminated.  The Coastal Science, Assessment, Response and Restoration would increase relative to FY 2017 by $773,00 to a level of $74 million.  Coastal Zone Management Grants and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System programs would be terminated.  Sanctuaries and Marine Protected Areas would be funded at $49.7 million which is about $1 million below the FY 2017 level.

The National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) would decline to $837.3 million which is about 15% below the FY 2017 level.  Under this proposal NMFS would terminate the Prescott Marine Mammal Stranding program, Interjurisdictional Fisheries Grants, Cooperative Enforcement Program with coastal states and territories to enforce marine conservation law; and reef fish stock assessments in the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA's Enforcement Program is proposed to decline by $18 million or 26% below the FY 2017 level.  Such a reduction could adversely impact NOAA's efforts to detect and deter Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and enforce restrictions on imports of illegally-harvested and improperly-documented seafood.

The National Weather Service is requesting $1.1 billion which is virtually equal to the FY 2017 level.  Within this budget, NWS would increase its support for the restoration of core capabilities; increase by $5 million its Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) updates; and enhance the resilience and reliability of integrated dissemination program applications.  Areas slated for reduction include $15.5 million to reduce surface and marine observations by reducing the National Mesonet Program; reduce the tsunami warning program by $11 million; reduce the investment in the National Water Model; reduce the NWS information technology workforce by $10 million through consolidation of IT support services; reduce the NWS workforce by nearly 250 positions by implementing the Operations and Workforce Analysis plan; save $2 million by terminating aviation science research to operations efforts; save $1.2 million via the consolidation of the Climate Prediction Center and Weather Prediction Center; reduce investment in numerical weather prediction modeling by $5 million; terminate NWS support for the COASTAL Act which among other things produces detailed post-storm assessments in the aftermath of severe storms; reduce by $3 million support for the National Water Model; 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) budget request for FY2019 is $19.9 billion, an increase of about 1.2% over the FY2017 level; these numbers include the addendum that added $300 million to NASA's request.  NASA's Science Account would be funded at $5.9 billion which is 2.3% over the FY2017 level. The addendum specifies that the additional $300 million in the Science account would support lunar science research and technology development of future power systems for solar system exploration.  Within the funding for the Science Account, Earth Science would decline to $1.784 billion which is 7% below the FY2017 level.  Earth Science would see the cancellation of five Earth Science Missions at NASA including Radiation Budget Instrument (RBI), Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud; ocean Ecosystem (PACE), Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3), Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) Earth-viewing instruments, and Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder.  

The Department of Defense (DOD)-- The FY 2019 Budget Request for DOD's Base Budget is $647 and an additional $69 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account for a total budget of $716 billion (Base +OCO).  Total DOD Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation level is $92.4 billion.  Of this amount, $18.6 billion is slated for the Navy which represents an increase of 8.3% over the FY 2017 level.  

Within the Navy, basic research would grow to $597 million, an increase of 6%.  Within the 6.1 program, Defense Research Sciences would increase to $459 million which is an increase of 8.5%.  At the same time, University Research Initiatives would decline by almost 2% (down to $119.4 million).  Navy applied research (6.2) and Navy advanced technology development (6.3) would each decline by 9%.

DARPA would grow by nearly 17% to $3.4 billion.  Basic research within DARPA is proposed to increase to $470 million which is a 12% increase.  DARPA applied research (6.2) grows by 15% and DARPA advanced technology development (6.3) increases by 18%.

For the National Institutes of Health, the Budget requests a total of approximately $34.8 billion, plus supplemental funding to help address the opioid epidemic.  This includes the additional $9 billion included in the addendum. However, the administration's proposal would consolidate the activities of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) into a National Institute for Research on Safety and Quality (NIRSQ) under the auspices of NIH. Similarly, programs currently administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), such as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are also shifted into the NIH portfolio. Thus, while the overall NIH budget would appear to increase, many programs across the Institutes and Centers could be adversely impacted by those consolidations. 

At the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Categorical grants to help fund State environmental program offices and activities for such activities as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Safe Drinking Water Act. The administration proposes to reduce many of these grants and eliminate others declining by $469 million from the FY2017 level of $1 billion.  In the addendum, the administration adds $724 million to EPA:  an additional $327 million to the Hazardous Substance Superfund account largely for the Superfund Remedial program, and an additional $397 million to the State and Tribal Assistance Grants account for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRF). The Administration is proposing to terminate most the Geographic Programs such as the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Champlain, Puget Sound programs.  For the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding would drop from $300 million to $30 million.  The National Estuary program would be reduced to zero from its FY 2017 level of $27 million.  Beach and fish programs would also be zeroed out.  Water Quality Research Projects, worth a total of $12.6 million that were added in by the Congress in FY 2017 would be terminated.  Overall R&D at EPA would decline by 37% under this budget proposal.

For the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Administration is requesting $860 million, $223 million or 25% below the FY 2017 level.  The 2019 budget provides $92.3 million for Core Science Systems. This is $23 million below the FY 2017 level.  The budget includes $50.9 million for the National Geospatial Program, a reduction of $16 million.  Within that $16 million reduction is a proposed reduction of $7.3 million for 3DEP.  The National Cooperative Geological Mapping Program would be funded at $23 million, a reduction of $2 million from the FY 2017 level. The request provides for continued collection of high-resolution elevation (3DEP) and hydrography data for the Nation, including modernizing maps for Alaska and complete national lidar coverage by 2033. The budget also includes $22.4 million for leveraged geologic mapping activities in coordination with States, which are important for infrastructure, resource development, and mitigation of hazards. Support for Earthquake Hazards would decline by nearly $13 million below the FY 2017 level. 

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is slated to receive $129 million in appropriations (an increase of $17 million) plus $50 million in offsetting collections from offshore rental receipts and other cost recoveries.  In 2019, BOEM will continue to advance renewable energy through a leasing program and streamlining of its permitting and National Environmental Policy Act processes. The BOEM continues to support renewable energy development spurred by the renewable energy goals of coastal States.

Department of State's Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) program would be funded at a level of $65.9 million, an amount similar to FY 2017.  Funds will be used to support countries to phase out ozone depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol to protect U.S. citizens from skin cancer and cataracts and support global market-leading U.S. companies by promoting global adoption of advanced air conditioning and refrigeration technology. Funds will also be used to meet the annual commitment to Pacific Island partners, which secures access for U.S. vessels to lucrative fishing grounds thus supporting economic opportunities for Americans.
 

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Congress Passes CR Until March 23 While House and Senate Agree on Raising Defense and Non-Defense Spending Caps for FY 2018 and FY 2019 – Facing a deadline of February 8, early this morning the Congress passed and sent to the President the fifth continuing resolution (CR) to keep the Federal Government operating until March 23.  At the same time, Congressional negotiators reached an agreement to increase the statutory spending caps for both Defense and Non-defense programs for FY 2018 and FY 2019.  The agreement would raise the total level of spending by about $300 billion over two years.

Under the spending cap agreement, the FY 2018 statutory Defense cap would be raised by $80 billion or 15%.  The Non-defense cap by $63 billion or 12%. For comparison purposes, the Administration’s FY 2018 budget request released last May proposed to increase Defense by $54 billion or 10% and reduce Non-defense by $54 billion or 10%.  The agreement also includes new spending caps for FY 2019 with an increase of $85 billion for Defense programs and $68 billion for Non-defense spending programs over the current respective spending caps in the Budget Control Act for FY 2019.

The budget agreement includes funding for four more years for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), bringing the previous six-year extension to a full decade. The agreement recommends $2 billion (over two years) for NIH research, and $20 billion for infrastructure spending that will go toward "existing" projects for water and energy infrastructure as well as expanding broadband to rural regions and surface transportation. In addition, the budget agreement recommends:  $6 billion over two years for combating the opioid epidemic and mental health; $5.8 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant Act; $4 billion to rebuild and improve VA Hospitals and Clinics; and $4 billion for programs that aid college affordability. Specific funding levels for these and other programs will be determined by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees as they work to develop a yearlong appropriations bill for FY 2018 ostensibly by March 23.

The agreement also includes $89.3 billion emergency funding in response to recent natural disasters.  Highlights of the supplemental appropriations package include:

·      $23.5 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Relief Fund, the primary funding source for immediate disaster response. The funding will support response and recovery efforts, including assistance to state, territory, possession, and local governments, to cover total estimated needs for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and FY2018 estimated needs for Hurricane Maria 

·      $17.4 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, largely targeted for projects to reduce the risk of future damages from flood and storm events.

·      $22 million for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to repair damages to 14 ARS-owned facilities and equipment resulting from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

·      $18 million for assessments and removal of marine debris from areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

·      $40 million for mapping and charting affected coastlines and navigation channels that are critical for transportation and commerce.

·      $42.1 million to repair or replace federal facilities and observing assets damaged by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which are necessary for forecasting and responding to future hurricanes and storm events.

·      $100 million for improving weather forecasting capabilities and data collection efforts to better protect lives and property in the wake of future hurricanes.

·      $200 million for fishery disasters causing severe economic harm in coastal communities following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, as well as disasters declared in 2017.

·      $81 million to repair facilities damaged at NASA’s Kennedy and Johnson Space Centers.

·      $16 million to repair damaged federally-owned radio telescope facilities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

·      $42.2 million for U.S. Geological Survey to repair and replace damaged stream gages and seismic monitors as well as conduct assessments and collect mapping data in order to aid in the recovery and rebuilding efforts.

·      $200 million for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for health recovery response, including: surveillance and abatement of vector-borne, food-borne, water-borne, and other infectious diseases that arise as the result of hurricanes.

·      $50 million for National Institutes of Health to provide funding to rebuild research efforts and physical infrastructure.

·      $100 million for institutions of higher education, and students at those institutions, in areas affected by the hurricanes and wildfires.

·      $1.374 billion for the FHWA Emergency Relief program to make repairs for highways damaged by disasters.  Removes the annual cap on emergency relief funding for territories, consistent with all states. Puerto Rico is also provided 100 percent federal cost share for damages resulting from Hurricanes Irma, and Maria for FY 2018-2019.

Assuming the CR and these new spending caps are signed into law, appropriators will use these new levels to complete their negotiations on, and enact into law, a yearlong omnibus FY 2018 appropriations bill by the time the new CR expires on March 23.  

On February 8, the Administration issued its Statement of Administration Position (SAP) on the spending agreement.  Overall, the White House supports the agreement, particularly the increased spending for Defense programs.  However, on Non-defense programs the SAP says,

…it is critical that the Congress work to decrease non-defense spending…to reduce America’s growing national debt. The Bipartisan Budget Act provides non- defense discretionary spending levels higher than the Administration deems necessary. Additionally, although the Bipartisan Budget Act does include some spending reductions, the Administration has proposed hundreds of billions of dollars in additional spending reductions that the Congress should also enact without delay in order to improve our fiscal state...

The President’s FY 2019 Budget Request is scheduled to be released next week on February 12.  Most observers expect, and the SAP reinforces this expectation, that despite the increase in the new spending caps for FY 2019, the White House budget request for FY 2019 Non-defense programs (such as research, education, climate programs, National Parks, health centers, etc.) will be at least as disappointing, if not more so, than it was for the FY 2018 request.  

Congress will have the new higher spending limits for FY 2019 to use when reviewing and ultimately acting on the President’s Budget request for FY 2019.

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Federal Government Funded Until February 8 – The Federal Government is operating under the authority of a fourth limited stop-gap funding resolution – a Continuing Resolution (CR) – that runs until February 8.  House and Senate negotiators are continuing discussions regarding either another extension of the CR and/or new spending limits for defense and non-defense spending for FY18 and FY19.  These new spending limits are important pre-requisites for completing the pending FY18 appropriations bills.  Other issues impacting the negotiations on an extension of the current CR include immigration and border security issues. 

NIH Asking for Research Ideas for Use of Data Collected by All of Us Research Program – The NIH All of Us Research Program is working to build one of the largest, most diverse datasets of its kind for health research, with one million or more volunteers nationwide, who will sign up to share their information over time. Researchers will be able to access participants’ de-identified information for a variety of studies to learn more about the biological, behavioral, and environmental factors that influence health and disease. Their findings may lead to more individualized health care approaches in the future.  NIH is requesting the science community submit research ideas that would make use of the data being collected.  The information provided will be used at an All of Us Research Priorities Workshop on March 21–23, 2018, to identify key research priorities and requirements (such as data types and methods) for future versions of the All of Us protocol. The deadline for submitting a use case for the All of Us Research Priorities Workshop is February 23, 2018.  Suggestions for research topics should be submitted here.

Dr. James Reilly Nominated to be Director of the United States Geological Survey, Department of the Interior -- Dr. Reilly currently serves United States and allied militaries as a subject matter expert on space operations, and he is a technical advisor supporting the National Security Space Institute of the U.S. Air Force. Previously, Dr. Reilly held management positions in academia, as well as at TAEUS Corp., and PhotoStencil, Corp. in Colorado Springs. During his 13-year career at NASA, he flew 3 spaceflight missions conducting 5 spacewalks for a total of over 856 hours in space. Prior to NASA, he was chief geologist at Enserch Exploration, Inc., working projects around the world including in Antarctica and on the continental slope of the Gulf of Mexico. He earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in geosciences from the University of Texas at Dallas.  Dr. Reilly’s nomination will be considered by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Hearing on Natural Hazards -- Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) chaired a full committee hearing on January 31 to discuss natural hazards, including volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis and avalanches, and the effectiveness of early warning monitoring systems to minimize risks and protect local communities. The committee received testimony from experts from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), U.S. Forest Service, the Mayor of Kodiak, Alaska, Washington State Geological Survey, the Alaska Earthquake Center, and Colorado Geological Survey. The accuracy and timeliness of early warning alerts for natural hazard events is critically important for local communities. Dr. David Applegate, USGS associate director of natural hazards, highlighted the capabilities of an ongoing project to improve early warning earthquake monitoring systems, particularly on the West Coast. When the magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck off the coast of Alaska last week, many monitoring systems worked well and alerts were issued quickly, but Dr. Mike West from the Alaska Earthquake Center noted that there were also a number of failures, some of which were not caused by the earthquake. Dr. West concluded his testimony by advocating for redundancies to be built into hazards preparedness plans, in order to avoid lapses in monitoring. 

Senator Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. She has introduced or cosponsored several bipartisan hazards bills, including the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System Act and the National Landslide Preparedness Act, in the 115th Congress. Both bills are included in her broad Energy and Natural Resources Act, which currently awaits consideration on the Senate floor. Senator Murkowski is also the lead cosponsor of S. 1768, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s, (D-CA), National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Act. An archived video of yesterday’s hearing is available on the committee’s website.

Senate Commerce Committee Holds Hearing on America COMPETES Legislation – On January 30, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing to review the implementation of the America Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA).  The witnesses were Dr. France Cordova, Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF); and Dr. Walter Copan, director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  The hearing was chaired by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) who, along with Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) worked together to enact AICA into law.  Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ranking Minority Member of the full committee, used his opening statement to express his concerns about how our international competitors – such as China – are beginning to challenge the U.S. leadership in science and technology.  The Committee and the panelists discussed specific programs and research projects that have resulted in either significant scientific breakthroughs, applications that have spurred economic development, advancements in health care and related technologies, and identified the need to attract more women and minorities into science and engineering.

Senate Commerce Committee Holds Hearing on Aquaculture – On January 30, Chairman John Thune (R-SD) convened a full committee hearing entitled, “Growing the Future: Opportunities to Support Domestic Seafood Through Aquaculture.”  Chairman Thune opened the hearing by noting the promise of domestic aquaculture and seafood production but also noted the “confusing regulatory maze” that confronts those in the U.S. seeking to enter or expand their activities in domestic aquaculture. “Permits for an aquaculture farm may be required from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Coast Guard, the Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Drug Administration.  This overlapping web of federal jurisdiction and lengthy, sometimes unending permitting process can take ten years or more – scaring many investors away.  Too often, this results in entrepreneurs taking their skills, talents, and ideas overseas to a more business-friendly environment.”

Witnesses for this hearing included: Mr. Donald Kent, President and CEO of Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute; Dr. Kelly Lucas, Director, Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center; Mr. Mark Luecke, Managing Director and CEO of Prairie AquaTech; and Mr. Barton Seaver, Director for Sustainable Seafood and Health Initiative Center for Health and the Global Environment.  To view an archived version of this hearing as well as copies of the witnesses’ testimony, please click here.   Most of the discussion focused on the benefits of aquaculture as way to provide healthy seafood, enhance coastal economic resiliency, and other benefits.  They also mentioned the important role Sea Grant plays in assisting local communities with these matters.  But witnesses and Members also talked about the complex, and often times uncertain, process of obtaining federal permits and working through other regulatory processes that make it difficult to operate economically viable operations.  Witnesses also discussed the need for sound environmental practices for domestic aquaculture operations and taking advantage of best practices and new technologies.  Witnesses also talked about the importance of research, public private partnerships, education, and outreach for both producers and consumers.

House Science Committee Calls for GAO Report on Sexual Harassment in the Scientific Community – On January 18, Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) sent a joint bipartisan letter to the General Accountability Office (GAO) to request a report on sexual harassment by federally funded researchers, specifically looking at NIH, NSF, USDA, DOE and NASA. In the letter, Reps. Smith and Johnson specifically ask for information on Title IX compliance programs at federal grant-making agencies and agency policies and processes related to sexual harassment that may fall outside of Title IX requirements. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 put a system in place designed to ensure that institutions receiving federal funding provide all students, regardless of sex, equal access to educational programs and activities.

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Federal Government Reopens While FY 2019 Budget is Delayed Until February 12th. – On Monday, January 22, after a weekend shutdown of the Federal Government, Congress passed, and the President signed into law another Continuing Resolution that keeps federal programs and operations going until February 8, 2018 and extends the Children Health Insurance Program for six years.  An agreement was reached in the Senate after Leader McConnell made a commitment on the Senate floor to take up an immigration bill that would include a fix for the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program.  The new CR would need to be addressed the week before the President’s FY 2019 budget request which has been re-scheduled for release on February 12.  The President is scheduled to give his first State of the Union Address on January 30.

NOAA and NASA Nominees Approved by Senate Commerce Committee – on January 18 the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee re-approved, along party lines, the nomination of Mr. Barry Myers to be the next NOAA Administrator and Rep. James Bridenstine to be the next NASA Administrator.  Both of these nominations were approved during the first session of this Congress (2017) but since their nominations were not acted upon by the full Senate by the end of the session, they needed to be re-submitted to the Committee for their approval.  Floor action on these nominees has not yet been announced.

Aquaculture Hearing Scheduled for January 30 before the Senate Commerce Committee – The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing entitled, Growing the Future: Opportunities to Support Domestic Seafood Through Aquaculture.  The hearing will examine the current state of aquaculture in the United States, future opportunities for offshore, coastal, and inland communities, and the potential impact on the economy.  

Witnesses will includeDr. Kelly Lucas, Director of the Marine Aquaculture Center, University of Southern Mississippi; Mr. Mark Luecke, Managing Director and CEO, Prairie AquaTech: Mr. Donald Kent, President and CEO, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute; and Mr. Barton Seaver, Chef and Author.  The hearing will take place in 253 Russell Senate Office Building with witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing available here.

NOAA Coastal Resilience Grants Program Funding Opportunity – On January 24, NOAA announced the FY 2018 NOAA Coastal Resilience Grants Program. The principal objective of the program is to implement projects that build resilience of U.S. coastal communities and ecosystems. In FY 2018, this solicitation is seeking coastal habitat restoration projects that build resilience by conserving and restoring sustainable ecosystem processes and functions and reducing the vulnerability of coastal communities and infrastructure from the impacts of extreme weather events, climate hazards, and changing ocean conditions. This program supports activities that restore or create natural infrastructure and natural landscape features to provide valuable ecosystem functions and services, such as habitat for fish, improved water quality and quantity, flood reduction, and erosion protection. Approximately $10 million will be available to support proposals under this solicitation. A copy of the solicitation is available here.

Department of Energy to Host 2018 ARPA-E Summit -- The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will host its ninth annual Energy Innovation Summit from March 13-15, 2018. The Summit draws thousands of participants from across the United States and internationally to convene a forum on the future of energy innovation. The Summit encourages leaders from industry, government, and academia to build partnerships that shape the direction of public-private cooperation in energy technology.

The Summit will include the Technology Showcase which features more than 275 innovative technologies from across all energy sectors, including prototypes and commercial-ready products—many on public display for the first time. In addition, it will also feature panel discussions and mainstage addresses from leading experts on a range of technology issues affecting energy innovation.  The Summit will be held at the Gaylord National Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland.  For more information and to register for the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, please visit here.

ARPA-E Seeks New Concept Papers -- Last month, ARPA-E announced up to $100 million in funding for new projects as part of the agency's latest OPEN funding opportunity. OPEN will support America’s top innovators through dozens of early-stage research and development projects as they build technologies to transform the nation’s energy system.  ARPA-E has issued previous OPEN solicitations in 2009, 2012, and 2015. The projects selected under OPEN in 2018 will pursue novel approaches to energy innovation across the full spectrum of energy applications. The agency collaborates across the department’s extensive research enterprise, providing support that complements existing DOE-wide initiatives. The deadline to submit a concept paper is February 12, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. E.T.  For additional information on the OPEN funding opportunity, please visit here.

NSF Seeks Proposals to Operate Regional Class Research Vessels -- Planning for construction of new RCRVs for the U.S. Academic Research Fleet (ARF) has been ongoing at the National Science Foundation for more than a decade.  In early 2012 a Solicitation (NSF-12-558) was issued for the design and construction of up to three RCRVs.  That solicitation further indicated that selection of operating institutions for any additional vessels would be conducted by means of a separate competition that would be completed prior to delivery of the first RCRV. This solicitation seeks to select qualified institutions to operate the additional RCRV Class vessels. These institutions shall either have current membership in the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) or be capable of becoming UNOLS members prior to taking over responsibility for full vessel operations. Separate proposals are required for each vessel. A copy of the solicitation can be found here.

DARPA Announces PREEMPT Funding Opportunity -- DARPA is soliciting innovative proposals to develop novel and scalable approaches to preempt viral spillover and transmission from animals and/or vectors into humans.  The program is also seeking to support proposals that develop and validate new scalable technologies to target potential human-capable viral pathogens in wild reservoirs and/or mosquito vectors to prevent transmission to humans. This Broad Agency Announcement for PREventing EMerging Pathogenic Threats (PREEMPT) is available here.

NOAA Funding Opportunity: Joint Technology Transfer Initiative -- Through the Joint Technology Transfer Initiative (JTTI) Program, NOAA Research’s Office of Weather and Air Quality (OWAQ) is soliciting proposals to conduct research and development activities related to advancing data assimilation of new observations and data assimilation techniques for convective-scale weather prediction, improving water prediction capabilities through enhancements to National Water Model, improving daily to subseasonal scale prediction of Arctic sea ice, and communicating forecast uncertainty.  Approximately $2 million is available for grant support.  A copy of the solicitation can be found here.

NSF Funding Opportunity for Antarctic Research -- The U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) supports scientific research in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.  NSF’s Office of Polar Programs (OPP) provides operational research support for these projects. OPP’s Antarctic Sciences Section (ANT) supports research to 1) expand fundamental knowledge of the Antarctic region, 2) improve understanding of interactions between the Antarctic region and global Earth systems, and 3) utilize unique characteristics of the Antarctic continent as an observing platform. Antarctic fieldwork is supported for research that can only be performed, or is best performed, in Antarctica. ANT encourages research, using existing samples, data, and models, that does not require fieldwork. ANT also encourages research that crosses and combines, disciplinary perspectives and approaches.  More information on this program can be found here.

A Periodic Federal Science Update

Shutdown Begins – Tonight, facing a January 19 deadline to either extend funding for Federal agencies or shutdown the government, the Senate failed to pass the stop-gap funding resolution that would have extended government funding until February 16.  Senate Democrats in sufficient numbers, opposed the bill because it lacked provisions to deal with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) issue.  With the defeat of this legislation on the eve of the anniversary of President’s first year in office, the Federal Government has begun the process to shut down and suspend all non-essential operations.  Essential operations will continue such as those associated with national security, air traffic control, Medicare and social security payments.  But most other activities, such as the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Disease Control, the National Science Foundation, the national parks, visa and passport processing, the National Weather Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Gallery of Art, and most other non-defense agencies and programs will be put on hiatus until the Congress and the White House can reach an agreement on funding the Federal Government along with other issues such as DACA, childrens’ health insurance, spending caps for defense and nondefense programs, disaster relief, etc.

NSF Releases Latest Science and Engineering Indicators Report – According to the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Science and Engineering Indicators 2018 released this week, the United States is the global leader in science and technology (S&T). However, the U.S. global share of S&T activities is declining as other nations -- especially China -- continue to rise.

The 2018 report shows the U.S. invests the most in research and development (R&D), attracts the most venture capital, awards the most advanced degrees, provides the most business, financial and information services, and is the largest producer in high-technology manufacturing sectors. The complete report, which covers data on the domestic and global science and engineering landscape, is available online.

Dr. Maria Zuber, NSB Chair and Vice President for Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said, “This year's report shows a trend that the U.S. still leads by many S&T measures, but that our lead is decreasing in certain areas that are important to our country," said. That trend raises concerns about impacts on our economy and workforce, and has implications for our national security.”

According to Science and Engineering Indicators 2018, China's growth in S&E continues at an exceptional pace.  R&D expenditures reflect a nation's commitment to expanding capabilities in S&T, which in turn drive innovation. While the U.S. led the world in R&D expenditures at $496 billion (26 percent share of the global total), China was a decisive second at 21 percent ($408 billion). China has grown its R&D spending rapidly since 2000, at an average of 18 percent annually. Its focus is geared primarily toward development rather than basic or applied research. During the same time frame, U.S. R&D spending grew by only 4 percent. Although emerging economies start at a lower base and therefore tend to grow much more rapidly, China's growth rate is exceptional.

Venture capital investment, which supports the commercialization of emerging technologies, totaled more than $130 billion globally in 2016. While the U.S. attracted the most investment (nearly $70 billion), accounting for slightly more than half of the global share, 26 percent of total venture capital funds went to China. Venture capital in China rose from approximately $3 billion in 2013 to $34 billion in 2016, climbing from 5 percent to 27 percent of the global share, the fastest increase of any economy.

Knowledge and technology-intensive industries -- in which S&T advances are key inputs -- are a major part of the global economy, comprising nearly one-third of world gross domestic product (GDP). America leads in providing business, financial and information services, accounting for 31 percent of the global share, followed by the European Union (EU) at 21 percent. China is the third largest producer of these services (17 percent global share) and continues to grow at a far faster rate (19 percent annual growth) than the U.S. and other developed countries. The U.S. is the largest producer of high-technology manufacturing (31 percent global share). This includes production of aircraft and spacecraft, semiconductors, computers, pharmaceuticals, and measuring and control instruments. China is second at 24 percent, more than doubling its share over the last decade.

Higher education provides the advanced work skills needed in an increasingly knowledge-intensive global economy. According to the most recent estimates, the U.S. awarded the largest number of S&E doctoral degrees (40,000) of any country, followed by China (34,000), Russia (19,000), Germany (15,000), the United Kingdom (14,000) and India (13,000). In contrast, the U.S. lags in bachelor's level degrees. India earned 25 percent of the more than 7.5 million awarded S&E bachelor's level degrees in 2014, followed closely by China (22 percent), the EU (12 percent) and the U.S. (10 percent). Nearly half of all degrees awarded in China are in S&E fields. Since 2000, the number of S&E bachelor's degrees awarded in China has gone up by 300 percent.

Over the past twenty years, students have become more mobile and countries increasingly compete for them as potential recruits for the S&E workforce. International student numbers in the U.S. dropped between the fall of 2016 and the fall of 2017, with the largest declines seen at the graduate level in computer science (13 percent decline) and engineering (8 percent decline). International students account for over 57 percent of graduate enrollments in computer sciences and engineering in the U.S. These students are a critical component of the U.S. workforce in these high demand fields. Seventy-nine percent of foreign doctoral graduate students choose to stay and work in the U.S. upon completion of their degree.

The business sector is by far the largest performer of R&D in the U.S., accounting for 72 percent of the $495 billion total in 2015. For several years, the annual rise in business R&D performance has accounted for most of the growth in overall U.S. R&D. Of the three main types of R&D -- basic research, applied research and experimental development -- businesses lead in both applied research (58 percent of $97 billion total) and experimental development (88 percent of $314 billion total). Higher education institutions continue to perform the largest share of U.S. basic research (49 percent of $83 billion total).  The business sector also leads in R&D investment, providing 67 percent ($333 billion) of the national total in 2015. In contrast, the federal government -- which was once the primary funder of R&D (67 percent in 1964) -- reached a historic low in 2015, funding 24 percent of the U.S. total. This decline has primarily been due to the faster growth in R&D investment by the business sector. In addition, federally funded R&D has been on a declining trend since 2011 (from $127 billion in 2011 to $120 billion in 2015).

The federal government remains the largest funder of basic research ($36.9 billion, 44 percent of total share), and is the primary driver of both innovative research and the training of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce. The business sector accounted for $22.7 billion (27 percent of total share) in 2015.

Novim Report Analyzes Impact of Budget Reductions Proposed for Federal Environmental and Climate Research Programs -- The administration’s FY 2018 budget contains $7.8 billion for federally funded CE R&D–a roughly $2 billion (21 percent) drop between FY 2017 and 2018–with significant reductions to most of the thirteen Federal agencies in the climate and environment portfolio. According to a new report released this week by Novim, if the proposed cuts become law, they will have profound impacts on U.S. capabilities, including dismantling programs that provide the scientific basis for policies that protect Americans’ health, economic prosperity, and safety; breaking the chain of longstanding observational and research infrastructure needed for climate and environment modeling; constraining the nation’s ability to detect and understand critical climate and environmental trends and influences on natural resources; curbing the training of the next generation of scientists, resource managers, and decision-makers who translate basic science into climate and environmental policies and approaches; degrading the U.S. Global Change Research program; and restricting the nation’s ability to meet legal and international climate and environment commitments. The report includes a summary of the proposed FY 2018 reductions and a detailed agency-by-agency analysis.  The full report, a fact sheet, and a press release can be downloaded here.

DOD Releases Funding Announcement for New Manufacturing Engineering Education Program (MEEP) -- The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017 established the “Manufacturing Engineering Education Program,” (MEEP) (10 U.S.C. § 2196) which authorizes the Department of Defense to support industry-relevant, manufacturing-focused, engineering training at United States institutions of higher education, industry, nonprofit institutions, and consortia of such institutions or industry. DOD will administer this new program through the Office of Naval Research (ONR).  The purpose of this program is to establish new or to enhance existing programs (or collections of programs) to better position the current and next-generation manufacturing workforce to produce military systems and components that assure technological superiority for DOD. Interested parties should focus programs on manufacturing education to support one or more distinct manufacturing technologies; e.g. manufacturing of lightweight structures, systems and materials; robotics for manufacturing; manufacturing to exploit nanotechnology; manufacturing of components and systems for power generation, storage, or distribution; manufacturing of multi-functional electronics and/or optical devices; or other manufacturing technologies of regional or industrial sector of interest. Proposed efforts should develop and enhance curricula and programs to effectively develop skills sets needed for students to operate in multidisciplinary design and manufacturing environments, including those for which manufacturing schema are informed by computational tools for modeling and simulation. Students also should be prepared to work effectively in environments where multiple engineering disciplines are engaged during design, development and manufacturing, and where the roles of manufacturers and suppliers in businesses of various sizes, from start-ups to major systems integrators, are optimized.  ONR intends to award approximately three (3) awards for an estimated total value of $5,400,000, subject to the availability of funds. Each individual award will be up to a maximum of $600,000 per year for up to three (3) years.

NOAA Announces $3 Million in Great Lakes Restoration Funding -- NOAA is announcing the availability of up to $3 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant funding for restoration projects in 2018. This federal funding opportunity (FFO) is intended for habitat restoration in the Great Lakes region, supporting healthy ecosystems and resilient coastal communities in Great Lakes states. Special focus for this FFO are locations beyond the Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs) targeted in previous years. The closing date is March 12, 2018. In 2018, approximately $3 million may be available to institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, commercial (for profit) organizations, and governments of U.S. territories, states, and local municipalities, as well as Native American tribal governments. The amount of funding available for this FFO is subject to FY2018 budget appropriations.  Priority will be given to projects that fulfill the following goals: Creating functional habitats for native fish species migration, reproduction, growth, and seasonal refuge, including improvements for fish passage, wetlands, and nearshore habitats; Restoring sites outside of AOCs including delisted AOCs and AOCs in recovery with all management actions complete; and Ensuring the long term protection of the restored site through partner-supported acquisition of land or a conservation easement at the restored site, or land with an ecological relationship to the restored site  (e.g. land in proximity or within the same watershed). Detailed description and requirements can be found at  http://www.grants.gov/, funding number NOAA-NMFS-HCPO-2018-2005487.

Secretary of Energy Appoints Chanette Armstrong as Director of DOE Office of Technology Transfer – On January 8, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced the appointment of Chanette Armstrong to head up the Department’s Office of Technology Transitions (OTT).  As the Director of the OTT, Ms. Armstrong’s responsibilities will extend across Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) program offices, its 17 national laboratories and its other research and production facilities across the country. She will also oversee DOE’s Energy Investor Center, the Technology Commercialization Fund, and the coordination of technology transfer activities and best practices across the DOE complex.  In addition to serving as the Director of the OTT, she will also serve as the U.S. Department of Energy Technology Transfer Coordinator, an advisor to the Energy Secretary Perry on technology transfer and commercialization activities. OTT was established in 2015 in order to expand the commercial impact of the Department of Energy’s research and development portfolio to advance the economic, energy, and national security interests of the nation. Ms. Armstrong is a registered patent attorney, holding a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University, an M.B.A. from Long Island University, and a J.D. from State University of New Jersey-Rutgers Law School. 

Statement by Leaders of the National Academies on the Political Review of Science Grants – On January 16 the Presidents of the National Academies issued the following public statement:

The highest standards of scientific integrity, transparency, and accountability are critical to maintaining public confidence in our nation’s research enterprise and in the wise use of the public investment in research.  The public expects policymakers and agencies to base those investments on independent advice and assessment from unbiased experts without political interference.  For these reasons, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine view any political review of scientific proposals as inappropriate, as it gives the appearance of political interference in science.  At the same time, we recognize the prerogative of federal agencies to align funding programs with their mission priorities in their calls for proposals and in their requests that reviewers assess the relevance of proposals to agency priorities as one of the criteria in proposal evaluation.

House Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus Grows to 66 Members -- The bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus welcomed four new members to its growing membership: Congressman David Cicilline (RI-01), Congressman Mark Sanford (SC-01), Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-05), and Congressman Daniel Donovan (NY-11).  Co-Chaired by Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22) and Congressman Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), the Caucus now has 66 members, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, representing diverse districts from across the country.  The mission of the Climate Solutions Caucus is to educate members on economically-viable options to reduce climate risk and to explore bipartisan policy options that address the impacts, causes, and challenges of our changing climate. As determined by the Co-Chairs, the Caucus membership will consist of equal representation by Democrats and Republicans.  The full membership of the Climate Solutions Caucus can be accessed here.